The Renewable Fuels Association National Ethanol Conference (NEC) concluded on February 13. During the last few quarters, ethanol margins have been at the lowest levels in many years resulting in reduced production and the permanent closure of some plants. A number of plants are seeking buyers. In this climate, the focus of the NEC was on the future of the industry. Here are some key points gleaned from multiple conference presentations.
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Members of Husch Blackwell’s renewable energy team attended the 2019 Infocast Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit in Carlsbad, CA, February 5-7. Here are some of the themes from the conference:

  • While there is a push to complete many projects in 2020, there was a lot of discussion about how the industry and project financing will evolve in coming years as the Production Tax Credit steps down and after it sunsets. The industry is becoming increasingly complex with ever-changing state and federal policies, an increase in C&I offtakers, increasingly complex non-traditional offtake arrangements, and new financing parties waiting in the wings. It is important to understand the challenges and opportunities that these changes create. Husch Blackwell’s renewable energy team can help you navigate these ever changing challenges and opportunities and ensure that your project is completed on time and in compliance with all state and federal policies.


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The biodiesel industry is gathering at the National Biodiesel Board’s National Biodiesel Conference in San Diego starting January 19.  With turmoil in the federal Renewable Fuel Standards program and low petroleum prices, the industry will be highlighting the important role biodiesel has to play in lowering carbon in the atmosphere. Biodiesel is commercially available and

Husch Blackwell partners with the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance (TREIA) once again to present a five-part webinar series focused on the Texas renewable energy industry. The final installment in the New Directions webinar series will discuss the upcoming 2019 regular session of the Texas Legislature and what’s in store for renewable energy.

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In the latest of the eight-part Renewable Energy Projects Webinar Series, Husch Blackwell’s Chris Reeder and Linda Walsh will discuss the federal and state regulatory approvals often required for typical wind and solar energy projects. They will address the circumstances under which such regulatory approvals are required and the timing needed to apply for

A new legislation signed into law in August, the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA), will expand vastly the types of foreign investment transactions that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) may review. Under the new law, a wide range of foreign investments affecting the U.S. energy sector

The announcement of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) on January 22, 2018, that the Trump Administration is granting relief for the domestic solar panels and modules industry under section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974, confirmed the fears of many consumers that substantial additional duties would be imposed on those products. USTR announced that the relief would come in the form of a tariff increase of 30% in the first year, decreasing to 25% in year two, 20% in year three, and then to 15% in year four. On January 23, 2018, President Trump signed the Proclamation implementing the relief. The relief will go into effect on February 7, 2018.

Despite the above tariffs, the relief announced provides that the first 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells are excluded from the additional tariffs. The use of the exemption for the first 2.5 gigawatts makes the relief a form of a “tariff rate quota,” meaning that tariffs only apply if imports rise above a certain quota amount. This type of relief has been imposed in the past, including on certain steel products. The ITC Commissioners made various recommendations to the President in this case, some of which included types of tariff rate quotas.

The nature of the relief will mean that exporters now are likely want to rush to import their products in order to be within the 2.5 gigawatt exclusion. The Proclamation states that the quota of 2.5 gigawatts “shall be allocated among all countries except those countries the product of which are excluded from such tariff rate quotas…” While this statement seems to imply that there will be a base time period used to determine different market shares within the total quota for different countries, our discussions with government officials indicate that this was not what was intended. Instead, the intention was to have one worldwide quota of 2.5 gigawatts that will apply to all countries, without any allocation among countries. Regardless of whether allocations are made among countries or there is just one overall quota, if shipments are made in the hope that they will fall within the exclusion but the 2.5 gigawatt quota already is filled at the time of entry, the 30% tariff that then will be applied may change the economics of a deal if the possibility of a tariff has not been taken into account. It is not clear at this time whether there will be some kind of pre-clearance for such imports before the time of exportation, or whether there will be a free-for-all at the time of entry.
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The renewables industry can breathe easier this weekend as details emerge from whirlwind negotiations that appear to clear the path toward passage of the first comprehensive tax bill in more than 30 years.

The final language, released by the Conference Committee last night, scraps a House provision which would have effectively gutted Production Tax Credits (PTCs) critical to the wind industry; eliminates the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax; and takes the teeth out of the so-called BEAT (Base Erosion Anti-Abuse) Tax
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Renewable energy developers believed to have dodged a bullet in the Senate’s tax reform bill face newfound concerns as the upper chamber works toward expected final passage this week. While the Senate bill preserves important Production Tax Credits (PTCs) that had been significantly rolled back in the House, it also contains a provision which would severely undercut the value of tax equity credits relied upon by institutional investors to justify upfront investments in wind and solar projects.
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