Senate bill proposes federal standard for U.S. renewable electricity generation

The recently introduced Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) Act of 2019 would put the United States “on a trajectory to decarbonize the power sector by 2050,” nawindpower.com reports. The Senate bill “is proposing a target of at least 50% renewable electricity nationwide” by 2035, by requiring electricity providers to increase their supply of renewable energy “by a percentage of total retail sales each year, starting in 2020,” according to the article. Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said the RES would “drive investment in our nation’s power generation infrastructure, improve affordability and reliability for our customers, and accelerate the ongoing transition to America’s renewable energy economy.” For more, read the full article.

Federal Updates, Renewable Energy

DOE funding projects to develop next-gen wind turbine drivetrain technologies

Four projects that “will develop more efficient, smaller and lighter-weight generators” for wind turbines “to lower costs and make wind power more affordable” will receive funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), nawindpower.com reports. The DOE has “selected four projects totaling up to $8 million to develop next-generation wind turbine drivetrain technologies for onshore and offshore applications,” according to the article. Two projects, by ABB Inc. of Raleigh, NC, and WEG Energy Corp. of Duluth, GA, “are developing direct-drive permanent-magnet designs.” The other two, by American Superconductor Corp. of Ayer, MA, and GE Research of Niskayuna, NY, “will develop superconducting generators.” The DOE will select one project “to receive up to $6.4 million to build and test a scaled prototype of the generator on a wind turbine.” For more, read the full article.

Federal Updates, Project Finance, Renewable Energy

First quarter of 2019 propels U.S. wind power construction to record level

U.S. project developers announced new wind farms with a total capacity of 6,146 megawatts (MW) in the first quarter of 2019, propelling “the total volume of U.S. wind power construction and development activity to a record level,” nawindpower.com reports. The article cites American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)’s newly released “U.S. Wind Industry First Quarter 2019 Market Report,” which shows this additional capacity brings the United States to “a new record of 39,161 MW” in development. Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, said, “America’s largest source of renewable energy generating capacity is on a path to grow by 40 percent in the near term. In doing so, we’ll create thousands of additional American jobs and new economic opportunities for factory towns and rural communities across the country.” For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, Federal Updates, Renewable Energy

U.S. led record year for corporate clean energy PPAs in 2018

New findings from BloombergNEF (BNEF) show “corporations globally bought a record amount of clean energy through power purchase agreements (PPAs) in 2018, shattering the previous record set in 2017,” nawindpower.com reports. BNEF’s “1H 2019 Corporate Energy Market Outlook” showed 121 corporations in 21 countries signed a combined 13.4 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy contracts, compared to 6.1 GW in 2017. “More than 60% of the global activity in 2018 occurred in the U.S., where companies signed PPAs to purchase 8.5 GW of clean energy, representing nearly triple the amount signed in 2017,” the article reports. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Federal Updates, Renewable Energy

2019 Infrastructure Funding: How to get it and spend it wisely

On January 14, 2019, the President signed the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (H.R. 7279), granting municipalities new statutory tools to affordably confront expensive infrastructure challenges using Integrated Planning. Bricker & Eckler, McMahon DeGulis and Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District are hosting a free series of public infrastructure planning events to discuss these tools and the integrated planning process.

This program will be offered in various Ohio locations February through May.  For more information, including schedule, location details and to register, visit the event page.

Economic Development, Federal Updates, Financial Incentives

Water Infrastructure Improvement Act grants new tools to municipalities

Local governments have “new statutory tools to affordably confront the expensive infrastructure challenges of stormwater, wastewater and other water resource improvement goals,” since the President signed the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIA), McMahon DeGulis LLP reports. The WIIA adds a new section to the Clean Water Act incorporating US EPA’s 2012 Integrated Planning Framework into law. Additionally, it “allows a local government to incorporate its Integrated Plan into NPDES permits,” usually a more flexible route than being subjected to a federal consent decree. The WIIA also requires local affordability to be considered in developing CWA compliance schedules. These changes make Integrated Plans “an essential tool for local governments to manage their Clean Water Act compliance and infrastructure renewal.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Federal Updates

Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service release guidance for Opportunity Zone incentive

The Treasury Department has released guidance for the new opportunity zone (OZ) tax incentive, which addresses gains invested in qualified opportunity funds (QOF), and has also released special rules for capital gains invested in opportunity zones. For more, read the full guidance and the special rules.

Economic Development, Federal Updates, Financial Incentives

Lake Erie wind turbine project “won’t harm environment,” DOE rules

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently ruled that the Lake Erie Energy Development Co. (LEEDCo)’s proposed project to build six wind turbines off the shore of Lake Erie “will have no significant impact on the environment,” Cleveland.com reports. The finding “included 14 categories of environmental impact,” including impact on the lake bottom as well as on birds, bats, fish and water quality. The ruling follows a two-year review and “means the federal agency’s funding arm can continue to support” the proposal to build the wind farm 8 to 10 miles offshore, according to the article. Six years ago, the DOE awarded LEEDCo a $50 million grant for the project, and has “so far dispensed $10 million of that award as the project developers met required milestones.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Federal Updates, Renewable Energy, State Updates

Acting EPA head says new clean-air plan gives states more flexibility

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule will “provide more flexibility to the states” than the Clean Power Plan, acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said, according to an article in The Columbus Dispatch. Wheeler said the EPA “will issue efficiency guidelines to states for each type of power plant, which the states will use to ‘set specific efficiency requirements on an plant-to-plant basis,’” according to the article. The Clean Power Plan “sought to reduce the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030," but “never went into effect after numerous legal challenges.” Wheeler said the new proposed plan returns “to the core basics of the Clean Air Act, which is working cooperatively with the states.” For more, read the full article

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Federal Updates

Opportunity Zone program stimulates development in distressed communities

A new federal program will encourage investment in distressed communities — Opportunity Zones — through tax incentives (see our April 10, 2018 blog post). The Opportunity Zone program allows taxpayers who invest in low-income areas specifically designated by the state and federal government to take advantage of up to three benefits: a temporary deferral, a reduction in gain realized through basis adjustment, and exclusion for capital gains on the investment. To qualify for these benefits, the investment must take place through a designated Opportunity Fund, an entity organized to acquire and hold for investment purposes equity interests in businesses or properties in Opportunity Zones. Ohio has 320 designated Opportunity Zones; there are 8,000 nationwide. For more, read our full article.

Economic Development, Federal Updates, Financial Incentives, State Updates
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