Nevada Legislature Approves Bills to Encourage Distributed Generation and Community Solar Projects

The Nevada legislature took several actions in the last days of its 2017 legislative session to reopen the state to the development of and investment in distributed generation and community solar projects.  While Nevada has the fourth most solar capacity installed of any state, most of the recent development has been of utility-scale projects after the Public Utility Commission of Nevada changed its net metering policy in 2015 to cut the rate paid by utilities for electricity produced by distributed generation systems to wholesale, rather than retail, rates.

Responding directly to industry pressure and the slowdown in rooftop and other distributed generation solar development since 2015, A.B. 405 provides that rooftop solar customers will initially be compensated for net metering at 95 percent of the retail rate.  Each time an additional 80 megawatts of rooftop solar is installed in the state, this percentage will decrease for subsequent installations, but will not go below 75 percent of the retail rate.  This represents a significant increase in rates from the current wholesale rate structure, though Nevada may remain less attractive for many developers and investors compared to states that require utilities to pay customers full retail rates for net metering projects.  Customers will be able to lock in their rates for twenty years, which will make investments in the first 80 megawatts of installed capacity particularly attractive to financing parties. 

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IRS Releases 2017 PTC Amounts

U.S. Department of Commerce Sets Stage for New Countervailing Duties on Chinese Solar Panels

The IRS just published its annual notice that provides the inflation adjustment factors and reference prices used in determining the amount of the section 45 production tax credit (PTC) for the production of renewable energy and refined coal.

The credit for the production of renewable energy from wind, closed-loop biomass and geothermal facilities is 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour for 2017 (up from 2.3 cents in 2016). The credit for the production of renewable energy from open-loop biomass, small irrigation power, landfill gas, trash, qualified hydropower, and marine and hydrokinetic facilities remains at 1.2 cents per kilowatt hour. The credit for the production of refined coal is $6.909 per ton for 2017 (up from $6.810 in 2016). The credit for the production of Indian coal has expired for calendar year 2017. No phase-outs apply to the credits for these energy resources in 2017.

A copy of the notice is available here.

From ESA to Keystone to EPA, Changes Coming Fast

Few things are certain leading up to Donald Trump’s presidency. But there is no question that environmental and energy policy will take center stage in the days – perhaps hours – following his inauguration.

Much of President Obama’s environmental legacy, particularly the parts stemming from executive actions, will be rolled back – and, more broadly, Washington is about to become a friendlier place for the fossil-fuel sector.

Here are the top issues we are watching in the early days of the Trump presidency.

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MISO Updates Interconnection Rules

FERC approved MISO’s proposed changes to its generator interconnection procedure (“GIP”) and generator interconnection agreement (“GIA”), designed to streamline MISO’s interconnection queue process. These changes will affect all interconnection requests made after January 4, 2017 and all prior requests that have not yet completed a system impact study.

The new provisions are largely designed to address delays in the Definitive Planning Phase (“DPP”) of the interconnection process caused by the need for unplanned restudies triggered when higher-queued projects leave the queue. The revised interconnection procedures contain the following changes:

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Supreme Court of Illinois Says Courts Can Decide ARES Rate Disputes

Courts – not the ICC – have jurisdiction over rate cases involving an ARES, said the Supreme Court of Illinois.[1] In a unanimous opinion written by Chief Justice Karmeier, the Court in December answered the Seventh Circuit’s certified question whether rate claims against ARESs are under the jurisdiction of the ICC or the courts under the Illinois Public Utilities Act.

The case arose when a residential electricity customer signed up to receive her power from an alternative retail electric supplier (“ARES”) instead of her local public utility. She was attracted to low teaser rates that were to apply during her first month of service. The ARES’ advertisement warned that the “market based variable rate” that was to apply after the first month could be higher than the public utilities’ rates, however the ARES never applied the promotional rate to the first month. Each month the ratepayer paid around three times the rates of her local utility. The ratepayer filed a federal court class-action suit against the ARES in the Northern District of Illinois under diversity jurisdiction, bringing common-law claims as well as claims under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. The ARES filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case because rate disputes are in the exclusive jurisdiction of the Illinois Commerce Commission (“ICC”).

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