In 2015, Congress passed a law providing a 30% investment tax credit for solar developers. Since then, there has been much confusion about the sunset provisions and whether construction must be started or completed prior to the sunset date. The IRS issued guidance last week, clarifying that developers have four years to begin a project to qualify for the ITC, which then begins to wind down from 30% to 10% based on the construction and service dates of the project. Additionally, it provided further clarity on tax incentive deadlines for small wind projects, fuel cell power plants, geothermal heat pumps [...]
The 2018 Agriculture and Nutrition Act (commonly referred to as the “Farm Bill”), a $489 billion piece of legislation which aims to fund a wide variety of rural and agricultural programs, is currently stalled in the House. The Bill, which would amend and replace the 2014 Farm Bill, is not yet active law. If the Bill reaches the president’s desk and is signed into law, however, it could have some major implications for rural broadband internet customers and providers. The proposed 2018 Farm Bill would affect rural internet customers and providers in two main ways: First, by increasing broadband download [...]
The California Energy Commission approved the 2019 Building Energy Code on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, requiring renewable energy access for all new residential homes in the state starting in 2020. The code includes incentives for energy storage while mandating that the construction of new homes include advanced energy efficiency measures and rooftop solar. It is anticipated that the California Building Standards Commission also approve the new standards in the coming weeks, thereby making it law.
The Department of Energy has announced a new multi-million (nearly $70M) dollar research and development grant program aimed at achieving the following three goals by 2028: 1)reducing battery pack cost to under $100 per kilowatt-hour, 2) increasing range to over 300 miles, and 3) charging in under 15 minutes or less. Numerous universities and industry research groups around the country have received funding and will be required to submit research results in the coming years.
For the first time in the utility industry the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given authorization to a utility company to utilize drone technology beyond the operator’s line of sight. Xcel Energy serves customers in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico. Xcel Energy in Colorado has received approval from the FAA to routinely fly drones beyond the operator’s visual line of sight for the purpose of inspecting and surveying transmission lines near Denver, Colorado. The FAA’s decision to allow Xcel Energy to operate these flights is a break from the usual FAA rules and [...]
Many within the electric utility industry, including both NRECA & APPA, have joined in the filing of a motion before FERC seeking an extended timeframe for its Baseload Generation Compensation Rule (“Rule”). Secretary Perry requested such rule to become final within 60 days of issuance, providing for a 45 day public comment window, which would leave FERC with only 15 days to review all comments and make any revisions to the Rule. The industry groups believe a more thoughtful review is necessary and appropriate given the impact such Rule will have on the industry. The industry groups requested 90 days [...]
In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, drones have been utilized in numerous instances to aid in the recovery process. One Electric Cooperative was able to fly 60 missions and inspected more than 1,600 poles in a hard-hit area in Harvey’s path. Drone footage enabled crews to deploy flat-bottomed boats in precise locations without wading through floodwaters. In another instance, a drone flew across the flooded river carrying a rope, where other workers stood waiting for it. (Co-op Drones Take Flight) Without the drone, lineworkers would have had to hurl wire across the river or wait for waters to [...]
On Friday, September 29, Rick Perry directed FERC to undertake a formal rulemaking within the next 60 days aimed at compensating baseload generation. The main precipitator of this rule is the 2016 Department of Energy’s Grid Reliability Study, which indicated weaknesses in the reliability of energy sources. "The recent Polar Vortex, as well as the devastation from Superstorm Sandy and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria reinforces the urgency that the Commission must act now. Moreover, the Commission should take action before the winter heating season begins so as to prevent the potential failure of the grid from the loss of [...]
In August 2017, the Department of Energy released a report titled, “Staff Report on Electricity Markets and Reliability.” One primary concern highlighted is how to preserve grid reliability looking forward. This report formed the basis of most questions aimed at the two remaining FERC nominees, Kevin McIntyre and Richard Glick, during their confirmation hearings before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. Now, Acting Chairman Neil Chatterjee is set to testify at the next Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee regarding the August 2017 report. In response, he is expected to unveil FERC plans for exploring compensation for baseload generation [...]
William Wehrum, an energy industry attorney and former EPA official, has been tapped to fulfill one of the agency’s most consequential roles. Last week, President Trump formally nominated Wehrum Thursday to be the EPA’s assistant administrator for air and radiation, where he would oversee a massive portfolio concerned with air pollution, climate change, and auto regulation. He would be responsible for the majority of the Trump administration’s deregulation efforts.