Posts Authored by Jhay T. Spottswood

DC Circuit ruling overturns longstanding FERC practice of delaying through tolling orders

An en banc decision from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that “prevents federal regulators from delaying decisions on whether to build out gas infrastructure indefinitely” could have “major consequences for stakeholders,” Utility Dive reports. The court ruled in Allegheny Defense Project v. FERC that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) “does not have the authority to postpone decisions on requests for rehearing” from landowners indefinitely, according to the article. 

Under the current process, “an individual has 30 days to file a request for rehearing after FERC issues an order,” then FERC has 30 days to respond. FERC “commonly responds to such requests through delaying or tolling the order,” which prevents the parties seeking a rehearing from pursuing litigation. 

Jeff Dennis, managing director and general counsel at Advanced Energy Economy, said the most severe impacts from that approach were on landowners; the “factual circumstances of the Allegheny Defense Project case were kind of the most extreme examples of how that policy could create real, lasting, irreparable harm on parties who are seeking rehearing and ultimately plan to seek judicial review.” For more, read the full article.

Federal Updates

Volkswagen settlement money funding Ohio EPA grants for EV charging stations

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting applications for “$3.25 million in grants for publicly accessible electric vehicle [EV] charging stations,” according to a recent news release. Funding for the grants “comes from dollars allocated to Ohio from the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund,” which requires states to develop a plan identifying how the money will be allocated for “10 allowable uses that can reduce nitrogen oxide emissions and offset damages,” according to the release. Eligible applicants “include public or private entities in the 26 counties that Ohio EPA has identified as eligible to receive funds”; applications will be accepted through September 30, 2020. For more, read the full news release.

Environmental, Project Finance, State Updates

Columbus exceeds EV adoption goal, leads Midwest

Smart Columbus recently announced that it has exceeded a goal set three years ago “to facilitate the purchase of 3,200 electric vehicles [EVs],” with 3,323 EVs sold in the Columbus region from April 2017 to February 2020, 10TV.com reports. In addition to surpassing that goal, Columbus “became the fastest-growing city in the Midwest for electric vehicle adoption,” according to the article. Because transportation “accounts for nearly 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. according to the Environmental Protection Agency,” Columbus could also see environmental benefits from increased EV adoption. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Smart Cities, State Updates

Renewables could overtake coal generation in 2020 as COVID-19 accelerates transition

The latest short-term energy outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows renewables generation “is set to outpace coal generation in 2020,” amid “shrinking electricity demand caused by COVID-19 response measures as well as low natural gas prices,” Utility Dive reports. Coal consumption “is expected to decrease by nearly a quarter to 453 million short tons this year” due to competitive gas prices and lower power consumption, according to the article. Renewable generation, on the other hand, has been “following an upward trend” and is projected to grow by 11% this year, “despite COVID-related impacts to new generation capacity builds in the coming months.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Federal Updates, Renewable Energy

GM, LG Chem joint venture Ultium Cells “to power EV future”

The partnership between General Motors (GM) and LG Chem to manufacture battery cells has a new name: Ultium Cells LLC, the Tribune Chronicle reports. GM and LG Chem “will mass produce battery cells for future battery-electric vehicles” at the Lordstown plant (see our March 31, 2020 blog post) that is expected to create more than 1,100 new jobs, the article reports. GM earlier announced “a strategy to grow the company’s electric vehicle [EV] sales quickly,” the heart of which “is a modular propulsion system and the highly flexible, third-generation global EV platform powered by proprietary Ultium batteries.” The Ultium batteries are unique “because the large-format, pouch-style cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack,” allowing engineers “to optimize battery energy storage and layout for each vehicle design.” For more, read the full article

State Updates

What 2020 could look like for C-PACE financing

After Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing had “its best year ever” in 2019 with approximately $677 million in investments, this year “was shaping up to be the strongest yet” for the program before the COVID-19 pandemic, cpexecutive.com reports. Cliff Kellogg, executive director of C-PACE Alliance, “a network of C-PACE industry stakeholders,” said in the article it’s “too difficult to predict how the volume will compare to last year.” Two of the largest C-PACE lenders, Petros PACE Finance and Greenworks Lending, agree. Mansoor Ghori, co-founder and CEO of Petros, noted, “banks may pull back a little bit on lending and create more space in the capital stack for C-PACE to fill in some of the gaps.” Kellogg also noted that C-PACE investments will increase because “more states are approving enabling legislation.” Ohio has had the second highest amount of C-PACE financing activity, with a total of about $224.5 million. For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, Energy Efficiency, Project Finance, State Updates

Clean Fuels Ohio partners with Lordstown Motors to promote Endurance electric trucks

Lordstown Motors Corp. recently announced it has a letter of intent from Clean Fuels Ohio, “a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the use of advanced technologies in Ohio,” to “promote the deployment of 500 of the startup automaker’s Endurance electric trucks,” The Business Journal reports. Clean Fuels Ohio will partner with Lordstown Motors “to help educate fleet operators across Ohio and encourage purchases of the trucks,” according to the article. Steve Burns, Lordstown Motors CEO, said Clean Fuels Ohio’s “history of collaboration with the transportation industry to promote the use of advanced fuels and vehicle technologies has broken down decades-old barriers and helped create a level playing field.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, State Updates

Construction begins on 200-MW solar facility in southeast Ohio

The Hillcrest solar facility, “a massive solar voltaic project,” one of the largest of its kind in Ohio, has begun construction, Columbus Business First reports. Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. is building the facility approximately 40 mile east of Cincinnati on about 1,350 acres of land, according to the article. The project “is expected to create about 300 construction jobs in the next 10 months and should contribute about $69 million to the local economy in wages.” Property taxes the project generates “are projected to contribute more than $60 million to Brown County, Western Brown School District and Green Township” over its lifespan. Hillcrest is expected to generate more than 416,000 megawatts annually, enough to power 39,000 households. For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, Renewable Energy, State Updates

OSU Extension specialists explain solar farm leasing for landowners

What do farm landowners need to understand about the solar leasing process? As solar energy companies have “approached several landowners in Madison County” in recent months, asking to lease their land, Ohio State University Extension is hoping to help answer that question, Columbus Messenger reports. Lower solar construction costs and a change in solar energy policy is prompting investors to rush to get projects started; two solar farm projects in Madison County are currently in the pre-application process with the State of Ohio, according to the article. OSU Extension specialists recently hosted “Solar Leasing 101,” a discussion about the process of leasing land for solar projects and the resources available to landowners. For more information, landowners can visit farmoffice.osu.edu and read the full article.

Financial Incentives, Renewable Energy, State Updates

Madison Village approves Energy Special Improvement District

Madison Village Council recently approved legislation to create “a program that will help property owners obtain financing at potentially attractive rates” for energy improvement projects, The News-Herald reports. Council agreed to establish an Energy Special Improvement District (ESID) in response to a petition by Vineyard Hotel Group, LLC, owner of the new Hampton Inn by Hilton in the village, according to the article. Vineyard “wants to secure financing to cover the cost of energy-saving features” including high-efficiency LED lighting, energy-efficient roof insulation, windows, and other components. Once the ESID is formed, other businesses will be able to seek financing for energy improvement projects through the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, the ESID’s investor, as well. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Project Finance, State Updates
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