Much has been written and discussed in the last several months about SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies.  What is a SPAC, and what are the possible applications of this capital raising and acquisition strategy in the energy industry?  Those questions are the topic of this piece. Continue Reading SPACs Offer New Investment Opportunities for Energy Industry

Earlier this year, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) implemented the revised 2021 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements (“2021 Standards”) for surveys. If a contract to provide an ALTA/NSPS survey is executed after February 23, 2021, the survey must comply with the updated 2021 Standards. Continue Reading The 2021 ALTA/NSPS Survey Standards Impact on Renewable Energy Projects

Leah Kaiser has written an article for The Contractor’s Perspective outlining the Department of Energy’s new initiative to protect electricity operations from increasing cyber threats to the energy industry.

DOE’s initiative outlines four primary areas of focus: (1) encouraging the implementation of measures that increase “detection, mitigation, and forensic capabilities; (2) setting “concrete milestones” designed to “enable near real time situational awareness and response capabilities”; (3) supporting and increasing the “cybersecurity posture of critical infrastructure information technology (IT) networks”; and (4) establishing a voluntary program “to deploy technologies to increase visibility of threats in ICS and OT systems.”

For more information, read the article here.

As more renewable energy projects are being developed across the United States, the number of projects in areas that contain active oil and gas and mining operations continues to rise. In the beginning stages of greenfield development projects, the oil and gas and mining operations affecting parcels within the site plan is sometimes overlooked, and if not addressed, these types of interests and operations can cause significant delays and costs when developing and financing a new project. However, some initial research and due diligence at the beginning of a greenfield development project can usually protect the project from these types of issues and costs and assure the project can stay on schedule and budget. Continue Reading A Time and Cost Saving Measure: Researching Oil and Gas and Mining Operations During the Beginning Stages of Greenfield Renewable Energy Development Projects

In order for renewable energy projects to gain traction on a larger scale in the United States, significant investments need to go into building the required underlying infrastructure, including a green sustainable grid across the country.

Eminent domain, the government’s right to expropriate private property for public use with just compensation, has historically been the go-to tool for the fossil fuel industry to build and expand its vast network of pipelines by obtaining the parcels of land needed to build the pipeline. Eminent domain is a controversial concept and has been a popular target for environmentalists looking to slow the expansion of the fossil fuel pipelines.  Recent examples include the PennEast Pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Continue Reading Eminent Domain as Climate Policy: From a Target to a Potential Tool for Expanding Renewable Energy Projects

As greenfield development continues to grow, the title industry is facing increasing demand resulting in higher price tags and longer turnaround time for early stage title work. While it may have been common practice to wait until nearly all site control agreements were complete and a close-to-final site plan was in hand before requesting title commitments, this approach is no longer ideal. Continue Reading Early Engagement with Title Companies Key to Successful Greenfield Development

In the wake of winter storm Uri, ERCOT market participants are grappling with the resulting financial fallout. Many are now familiar with actions the Texas Public Utility Commission took during the February weather event with the intent to bring and maintain as much generation online as possible – notably ordering ERCOT to implement a temporary adjustment to the scarcity pricing mechanism designed to result in real time prices reaching the system-wide high offer cap at the statutory maximum of $9,000/mWh during the height of the generation forced outages.

Now, more than two months removed from the storm, the resulting financial impacts are having serious repercussions across the ERCOT market. Several retail electric providers have filed for bankruptcy, lawsuits are underway against a wide swath of market participants and regulators (ERCOT, the Public Utility Commission, generators, REPs, gas utilities, etc.), and countless market participants are faced with paying record-high bills for a range of reasons, including the need to procure energy in the real-time market during scarcity conditions, to obtain high priced gas supplies, to cover positions when their resources incurred outages, or exposure to uplift of default amounts owed to ERCOT. Complicating that, ERCOT has failed to pay many who did perform during the storm due to the short payment of some market participants, which means those who performed may not soon realize revenue associated with that performance. Additionally, the higher prices for power and ancillary services prompted ERCOT to substantially increase Counter-Party collateral requirements. Last month, the Public Utility Commission issued an order in Docket 51812 extending the deadline to dispute ERCOT invoices related to the winter event from 10 business days (under the current ERCOT Protocols) to six months. Since this order, the Commission has taken no additional action to address issues related to settlement invoices resulting from the storm. Continue Reading ERCOT Unveils Plan for Invoicing Default Uplift Charges

Bottom Line Up Front: The Department of Energy (DOE) will implement new cybersecurity programs to enhance energy sector resilience. DOE’s announcement coincides with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s support for the DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER). Expect to see resilience to cyber attacks in future government procurement activities.

On March 18, 2021, CESER announced several new research programs designed to enhance the safety and resilience of the U.S. energy sector. The Trump administration established CESER to protect critical energy infrastructure by assisting oil, natural gas, and electricity industries secure their infrastructure. Currently, energy infrastructure faces threats not only from climate and natural hazards, but also evolving and increasing physical and cyber threats. Continue Reading White House and Congress Support Improved Cyber Resilience in the Energy Sector

Recent Regulatory Steps

On January 14, 2021, on the eve of President Biden’s inauguration, EPA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, seeking comment on whether PFOA and PFOS should be regulated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”). This will likely lead to the designation of PFOA and PFOS as “Hazardous Substances” under CERCLA and RCRA. Such a designation will likely lead to EPA and the state agencies taking more aggressive action to investigate and identify new sites where PFAS may be a concern and also to review the status of existing sites where PFAS may be a concern that was not addressed in previous investigations or response actions and to potentially pursue response actions at such sites.  At this moment though there is only the interim policy that EPA provided to assist in addressing PFOA and PFOS groundwater contamination. The comment period on this advance notice just closed and we anticipate a proposed rulemaking in the near future. Continue Reading PFAS – Regulation is Upon Us

FERC is in the process of gathering information and building a public record on technical and market issues that are prompted by the growing interest in “hybrid resources.”  FERC held a technical conference in the summer of 2020 (Docket No. AD20-9), followed by written comments from conference participants. In mid-January 2021, FERC directed RTOs and ISOs to submit reports on specific information requests.  Those reports are due in July 2021 and will likely provide valuable RTO and ISO specific facts and information for developers seeking to build, own, and operate hybrid resources in FERC-regulated RTOs and ISOs.

This technical conference proceeding could imply that FERC sees a basis or need to revise regulations or tariffs to address issues limiting hybrid resource development.  While FERC is not mandating any new requirement at this time, it could foreshadow a rule making proceeding for new regulations that facilitate and perhaps incentivize hybrid resources.

Generally, “hybrid resources” are projects that are comprised of more than one resource type at the same plant location.  For purposes of the Technical Conference, FERC focused on hybrid resources that consist of “a generation resource and an electric storage resource paired together.”  In industry vernacular, “hybrid resources” are also referred to as “Co-Located Resources,” “Combination Resources,” or co-controlled resources that share a single point of interconnection (“POI”). Continue Reading FERC Explores Barriers to “Hybrid Resources”