FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments
While no one has a crystal ball for what 2023 will hold for the energy industry, the seemingly widespread support for green technology and clean energy is expected to carry through this year. In our industry outlook, “The Trends—and Traps—That Will Shape 2023,” we highlight some of the major green energy tax credit trends.
On January 1, 2023, newly constructed standalone energy storage facilities became eligible for an investment tax credit (ITC) under Section 48 of the Internal Code of 1986, as amended (Code), pursuant to provisions of the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Storage facilities placed in service before 2023 generally were only eligible for an ITC when constructed as part of a combined renewable generation (typically solar) plus storage facility and the storage system was charged by the paired renewable generation system at least for the 5-year initial operating period. Storage developers and owners will now be able to take advantage of new and significant tax credit opportunities, whether or not the storage system is paired with a renewable generation energy facility.
FERC issued three orders focused on increasing regulations for inverter-based resources (IBRs) in fulfillment of one of its primary goals to protect the reliability of the bulk-power system. FERC ensures this reliability through the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), an independent Electric Reliability Organization that develops and enforces mandatory reliability standards. The reliability standards are only mandatory for certain entities registered with NERC, but most IBRs are not required to register and therefore are not obligated to follow the reliability standards.
On December 1, 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its proposed “set” rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program. In addition to setting the volume and percentage standards for renewable fuels for 2023 through 2025, EPA proposed several regulatory changes to the RFS Program, the most notable of which was its proposal to create a new program to govern the Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) for renewable electricity, which are known as “eRINs.”
The US Department of Commerce (DOC) issued its preliminary determination on December 2, 2022, related to circumvention of antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) orders A-570-979 and C-570-980 (the Orders) with respect to Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. DOC determined that imports of certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells exported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, or Vietnam using parts and components produced in China are circumventing the AD/CVD orders on solar cells and modules from China.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) issued an order on September 22, 2022, informing sellers with market-based rate (MBR) authorization that have not complied with Order No. 860’s requirements to submit data describing their ownership and affiliates that their MBR authorizations will be revoked unless they come into compliance within 15 days.
FERC recently held a Staff-led technical conference to discuss whether, and if so, how, the Commission should require additional financial assurance mechanisms in the licenses and other authorizations it issues for hydroelectric projects, to ensure that licensees have the capability to carry out license requirements and, particularly, to maintain their projects in safe condition. The feedback received during the conference, as well as the comments to be filed, will likely shape the ultimate FERC rule on financial assurance requirements currently under consideration.
As an example of its renewed focus on dam safety, FERC recently issued an order assessing a $600,000 civil penalty to Ampersand Cranberry Lake Hydro LLC for a violation of Ampersand’s hydro license for the 500 kW Cranberry Lake Project No. 9658. The violation is related to Ampersand’s failure to complete known dam safety repairs over multiple years and its loss of property rights needed for the Cranberry Lake Project, located on the Oswegatchie River in St. Lawrence County, New York.
Be sure to check out the latest issue of Empowered, our energy industry newsletter.
In an article featured in our global energy industry newsletter, Empowered, lawyers Carl Valenstein and Jonathan Wilcon analyze the implications of the Jones Act on offshore wind development. While the authors acknowledge that many see Jones Act compliance as a “potential bottleneck” for the offshore wind industry’s progress, they discuss strategies that will permit Jones Act compliance and offshore wind development in the United States.