Bricker & Eckler, with national and state partners, to host PACE market update webinar

Bricker & Eckler, along with national and state partners, will host a webinar Tuesday, January 12, 11:00 a.m. - 1 p.m. EST, to recap significant PACE industry developments from 2020 and preview what’s on the horizon for 2021. The webinar will focus on the Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Pennsylvania markets. Special guest Colin Bishopp, Executive Director of PACENation, will share a national perspective of the PACE landscape. More information >>

Energy Efficiency, Federal Updates, Financial Incentives, Project Finance, State Updates

Car manufacturers broadening EV lineups to include more SUVs, trucks

The electric vehicle (EV) market is growing not only in market segment, but in the size and variety of models manufacturers are gearing up to produce, the Business Journal Daily reports. Automakers are preparing to “begin offering full-size SUVs and pickup trucks” as part of their EV lineups, according to the article. The Endurance pickup from Lordstown Motors Corp. “is expected to hit the market next year,” with 40,000 already on pre-order. Tesla reported it has 650,000 preorders for its Cybertruck, and Ford Motor Co. “will be rolling out electric versions of its venerable F-150 and Mustang lines, the latter of which will be as an all-new SUV version.” General Motors (GM) is reviving its Hummer nameplate as an electric-powered GMC truck. GM announced “a five-year, $20 billion commitment to its electric lineup,” including the $2.3 billion Lordstown plant that will produce batteries for all its electric vehicles “as well as a Honda model.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Federal Updates

US corporate demand will drive up to 72 GW in new renewable projects over next 10 years

Corporate-driven power purchase agreements (PPAs) “could represent 20% of all utility scale renewable power additions” in the United States from 2021 to 2030, according to a recent IHS Markit report, Utility Dive reports. The report concludes corporate-driven PPAs “could drive development of 4.4 GW to 7.2 GW annually,” according to the article. More than 200 companies in the U.S. are procuring renewable energy or plan to do so, and “about 40% of these companies have targets that escalate through the early to mid-2020s.” For more, read the full article.

Federal Updates, Renewable Energy

FERC ruling reverses 40 years of PURPA precedent in defining small solar

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently issued an order that reverses “40 years of precedent under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA)” determining how a small power producer is defined, Utility Dive reports. In the ruling, FERC “denied qualifying facility (QF) status to a facility in Montana with a net capacity of 80 MW of solar power . . . asserting that because its gross capacity is 160 MW, it does not meet the legal threshold for a QF,” according to the article. That facility, Broadview, updated its filing in 2019 “to reflect the addition of panels that allow it to have 160 MW of gross capacity”; the developer “argues that because its 160 MW solar, 50 MW battery facility connects directly to direct-current-to-alternating-current inverters, the maximum net capacity of the facility is still 80 MW.” For more, read the full article.

Federal Updates, Renewable Energy

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

$1B Gemini Solar Project will be largest solar project in U.S. history

The Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved a proposal to construct and operate a 690-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic solar energy facility about 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, greenlodgingnews.com reports. The estimated $1 billion Gemini Solar Project “could be the eighth-largest solar power facility in the world when finished and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 260,000 homes in the Las Vegas area and potential energy markets in Southern California,” according to the article. Project construction “is anticipated to average 500 to 700 construction workers” at a time, “supporting up to an additional 1,100 jobs in the local community and injecting an estimated $712.5 million into the economy in wages and total output during construction.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Federal Updates, Renewable Energy

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

CARES Act “filled with options” to help small businesses, MAGNET says

The Cleveland-based Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) is working with several groups to help manufacturers navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, CantonRep.com reports. Their efforts include studying the CARES Act recently passed by Congress “to find the changes that can benefit small businesses,” according to the article. MAGNET says the CARES Act “is filled with options to assist small business owners,” including “a loan of up to 2.5 times a company’s average monthly payroll,” deferment of the 6.2% Social Security tax for 2020 until the end of 2022, and options “for expanding and paying for unemployment.” For more, read the full article.

Federal Updates, Miscellaneous

Opportunity Appalachia forum features ideas for attracting community investment

The Opportunity Appalachia forum, held in Marietta, Ohio, on January 14, brought together approximately 75 local leaders in southeastern Ohio to learn more about the federal Opportunity Zone program. Created as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones allow investors with significant capital gains to make investments in eligible areas in Ohio to delay and/or reduce their federal tax obligations. Bricker & Eckler was represented by Public Finance attorney Jeff Harris as one of many state and national speakers addressing the audience on how to attract investments to their communities. Harris specifically talked about how to create an Opportunity Zone prospectus, to be published online and in print form, to highlight eligible investment projects in one’s local community. For more, read the full story.

Economic Development, Federal Updates, Financial Incentives, State Updates