Archive for the ‘Environmental Policy’ Category

PA PUC Enters Final Implementation Order of Act 40

Posted May 10th, 2018 by SRECTrade.

On Thursday, May 3rd, the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) entered its Final Implementation Order of Act 40 of 2017, clarifying some questions that remained from its adoption of the Final Implementation Order. Notably, the entry confirmed that PA-certified but out-of-state facilities would not be grandfathered with solar renewable energy credit (SREC) eligibility (i.e. Tier I solar), since the PUC found that grandfathering these facilities would result in minimal improvement for state SREC prices and fail to effectuate the intentions of the PA General Assembly.

The entry also clarified that PA SRECs associated with energy generated after October 30, 2017 would be re-certified to non-solar RECs (i.e. Tier I non-solar). The PA REC Program Administrator and PJM GATS have already worked together to modify the Tier I certification numbers attributed to all out-of-state facilities and SRECs that no longer qualify for Tier I solar eligibility. This means that SRECs with a Month of Generation of November 2017 and later have now been re-certified as Tier I non-solar RECs.

Some facilities that were re-certified with Tier I non-solar eligibility will be permitted to temporarily maintain SREC certification if under an SREC contract with an electric distribution company (EDC) or electric generation supplier (EGS) serving PA customers. EDCs and EGSs seeking to qualify contracted RECs as Tier I solar-eligible under the Final Implementation Order’s ruling must file a petition within 60 days of the entry date of the Order (May 3rd). Please note that such facilities will only be permitted to maintain certification until the expiration of the SREC contract.

Moving forward, it appears that the PA REC Program Administrator will be responsible for working with PJM GATS to re-certify SREC-contracted facilities for Tier I non-solar REC generation once their contract term expires.

Additionally, the entry clarified that:

  • Solar facilities interconnected in PJM service territory are permitted to continue generating RECs eligible to be used toward Tier I non-solar requirements in the AEPS.
  • Out-of-state grid-supply solar facilities must be serving end-use electricity load in PA to continue to generate energy and SRECs eligible for compliance under the Tier I solar requirement. Specifically, solar facilities must meet one of the following criteria:
    • Physical connection to a PA EDC customer’s internal electrical system
    • Physical interconnection to an EDC’s distribution system
    • Physical connection to a PA electric cooperative’s or municipal electric system’s distribution network
    • Physical connection to any PA-located transmission system, including utility-scale solar facilities that are within a PA EDC’s service territory and operating under PJM wholesale generator rules
  • SRECs generated by out-of-state facilities prior to October 30, 2017 will maintain their Tier I solar certification

PA PUC Adopts Final Implementation Order of Act 40 – Impacts Out-of-State PA-Certified Solar Projects

Posted April 19th, 2018 by SRECTrade.

On Thursday, April 19th, the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted its Final Implementation Order of Act 40 of 2017. The Order amends the qualifications to certify Tier I solar photovoltaic facilities under Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) Act. As summarized in our previous blog post, ambiguous language in Section 2804(2)(i) and Section 2804(2)(ii) of Act 40 made it unclear whether certified but out-of-state facilities would retain their certifications under the AEPS. The Order clarified the PUC’s interpretations of Section 2804(2)(i) and Section 2804(2)(ii) which are as follows:

  • Section 2804(2)(i) – “[a] certification originating within the geographical boundaries of this Commonwealth…” shall mean a facility located within PA having received an AEPS Tier I solar photovoltaic certification.
  • Section 2804(2)(ii) – shall only permit out-of-state facilities that are 1) already certified as AEPS Tier I Solar Photovoltaic and 2) entered into an SREC contract with a PA electric distribution company (EDC) or electric generation supplier (EGS) serving PA customers to maintain certification until the expiration of the contract.

Solar facilities that meet the two Section 2804(2)(ii) criteria listed above are limited to maintaining certification only for the applicable amount of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) contractually committed to an EDC or EGS. EDCs and EGSs seeking to qualify SRECs under this interpretation must file a Petition with 60 days of the entry date of the Order.

In addition, the Order clarified that SRECs generated by certified but out-of-state facilities prior to October 30, 2017 will retain their Tier I solar qualification for their standard banking lifetime (current reporting year and following two). The Order did not clarify whether SRECs generated by such facilities after October 30, 2017 will also be able to retain their Tier I solar qualification.

At this time, it is unclear how implementation of these interpretations will be administered. SRECTrade will continue to monitor the proceedings and provide updates as they become available.

NJ Solar RPS Increase – New Jersey Assembly and Senate Pass AB-3723 / SB-2314

Posted April 13th, 2018 by SRECTrade.

On Thursday, April 12th, the New Jersey Assembly and Senate passed Assembly Bill 3723 (AB-3723) and Senate Bill 2314 (SB-2314). The bill now sits on the desk of Governor Phil Murphy (Dem) waiting to be signed, after passing the Assembly by a margin of 49-20-2 and the Senate by a margin of 29-8. The bill requires a number of action items to be carried out, including:

  • Requiring the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to:
    • Administer an energy storage analysis
    • Advance, increase, and extend the solar carve-out schedule and reduce and extend the solar alternative compliance payment schedule
    • Introduce structural changes to the state SREC program
    • Implement energy efficiency and peak demand reduction programs
    • Implement a “Community Solar Energy Pilot Program”
    • Offer tax credits for specified offshore wind facilities
  • Requiring the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to establish job training programs for professionals in manufacturing and maintenance of offshore wind facilities

The bill requires 21% of statewide electricity sales to be derived from Class I renewable energy sources by January 1, 2020, 35% by January 1, 2025, and 50% by January 1, 2030. The cost of this requirement shall not exceed 9% of the electricity purchased by all NJ ratepayers for each energy year 2019-2021 and shall not exceed 7% in each energy year thereafter. In addition, all facilities filing SREC applications after the bill’s enactment date will be subject to a reduced SREC eligibility term of 10 years, down from 15.

No later than 180 days after the enactment of the bill, the board will implement rules to close the SREC program to new systems upon reaching the 5.1% solar carve-out target. The legislation intends to close the existing SREC program to new projects on or before June 1, 2021. Within 24 months from signing the legislation, the Board of Public Utilities will be required to conduct a study that evaluates how to modify or implement a new solar incentive program. A variety of market stakeholders will be consulted in the process to determine the next best steps forward for the NJ SREC market.

As shown below, the bill brings forward and raises the state’s solar carve-out requirements beginning with EY2019 and extends the requirements through EY2033. The requirement peaks at 5.10% in EY2021-2023 before gradually declining through EY2033. The reduction mechanic was introduced to account for solar facilities that will be reaching the end of their SREC production eligibility term.

The bill also reduces the solar alternative compliance payment (SACP) beginning with EY2019 and extends the SACP schedule through EY2033. The SACP level drops to $268 in EY2019 and then gradually decreases by $10 each year following.

For more information on the historical progress of the bill, please view our previous blog post on the topic here. SRECTrade will be publishing an updated New Jersey Supply and Demand Analysis to its blog shortly in consideration of this bill.

Trump Administration Establishes 30% Solar Panel Import Tariff

Posted February 1st, 2018 by SRECTrade.

On January 22nd, President Donald Trump’s administration announced that it approved a four-year tariff on imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells and modules. Effective February 7, 2018, the tariff imposes a 30% duty set to decline by 5% each following year. The first 2.5 gigawatts of CSPV products imported in each year will be exempt from the tariff.

The decision followed the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) unanimous determination that solar cell and module imports are inflicting “serious injury” on domestic manufacturers. Although the Commissioners recommended a variety of tariff rate structures, they agreed upon an increase in duties with an allowance for a limited quantity of imported cells in their proposal to the Trump administration.

The initial Year 1 tariff is expected to increase install costs by 10-15 cents per watt, which Greentech Media estimates could result in approximately a 10 percent reduction in U.S. installed solar capacity. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), of the 260,000 Americans employed in the solar industry, only 2,000 are manufacturing solar cells and modules. SEIA reports that the tariff could cause the loss of approximately 23,000 American jobs in 2018 alone.

Proposed Amendments to 310 CMR 7.75: Clean Energy Standard

Posted November 9th, 2017 by SRECTrade.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) have proposed amendments to 310 CMR 7.75: Clean Energy Standard. The amendments are intended to achieve greater consistency among all Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) clean energy programs and policies.

The amendments, a background document, and a notice with information about attending a November 27, 2017 public hearing in Boston at 10:00am and submitting written comments, are available on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s website here. Additional information about 310 CMR 7.75, including relevant stakeholder comments, is also available on their website.

The MassDEP published 310 CMR 7.75: Clean Energy Standard as a final regulation to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions. For more information on the promulgation of the MA Global Warming Solutions Act regulations, please visit our recent blog post on the topic here.

MA Global Warming Solutions Act Regulations Promulgated

Posted August 11th, 2017 by SRECTrade.

On Friday, August 11th, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) published six final regulations to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions in the Massachusetts Register. These regulations follow the Supreme Judicial Court’s May 17, 2016 ruling in Kain v. DEP and Governor Baker’s September 16, 2016 Executive Order No. 569 (“Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth”) to help ensure compliance with the 2020 statewide emissions limit established by the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).

The six regulations and amendments include:

  • 310 CMR 7.72: Reducing Sulfur Hexafluoride Emissions from Gas-Insulated Switchgear (amended)
  • 310 CMR 7.73: Reducing Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Distribution Mains and Services (new)
  • 310 CMR 7.74: Reducing CO2 Emissions from Electricity Generating Facilities (new)
  • 310 CMR 7.75: Clean Energy Standard (new)
  • 310 CMR 60.05: Global Warming Solutions Act Requirements for Transportation (amended)
  • 310 CMR 60.06: CO2 Emission Limits for State Fleet Passenger Vehicles (new)

For more information on these regulations, including Fact Sheets, please visit the MassDEP website on the topic.

Clean Power Plan: 2016 & Beyond

Posted March 9th, 2016 by SRECTrade.

On February 9th, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered in a 5-4 decision to issue an unprecedented emergency stay on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP), as states and other stakeholders continue to present legal challenges before lower courts. The Clean Power Plan calls for a 32% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 (from a 2005 baseline), requiring states to present their initial compliance plans to the EPA by 2022.

The implementation of the CPP could encourage the states to consider instituting new–or to improve existing–state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) to help meet their goals. Today, only twenty-nine states, Washington, D.C., and two territories have adopted an RPS. Seven of these RPS states have a solar carve out, where a specific percentage of renewable energy requirements must be satisfied with solar energy resources. In addition, eight states and two territories have set some form of renewable energy goals. The CPP’s call to action will mandate all 50 states to develop cost-effective plans to combat climate change, improve air quality and create new jobs.

Twenty-nine states, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other entities invested in fossil fuels are challenging the CPP. Many of these CPP opponents argue that the EPA is acting beyond its authority and that, at a minimum, the CPP’s merits must be fully reviewed before imposing federally mandated plans upon the states. CPP opponent Wyoming Governor Matt Mead stated that he is “thrilled” that the EPA’s climate rule was stayed, because the stay may leave the door open for the new administration to evaluate whether there is a “better way to go” than what the CPP would require. However, it is possible that the issue will be brought back to the Supreme Court for a decision before the new president is sworn in on January 20, 2017, leaving time for President Obama to make the Plan law before he leaves the White House.

Litigation in the lower courts is scheduled to begin on June 2, 2016, and a ruling from the Court of Appeals is expected by the end of 2016. Once an appellate decision is made, the case is expected to go back to the Supreme Court. But the sudden passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia adds additional uncertainty and complexity to the future of the CPP, as the late Justice Scalia’s successor may very well shape the future of the Clean Power Plan. A new voice on the Court could result in a vote in favor of the CPP, which could swing the 5-4 decision in favor of lowering carbon dioxide emissions and fostering a sustainable change.

Alas, it remains to be seen if President Obama will successfully appoint a new Justice before the end of his term, potentially leaving the appointment to the next President. And if a new Justice is not appointed before the Court revisits the CPP, there is a chance we could see 4-4 decision from the Court on the issue, which would mean that the Court of Appeal’s ruling would be automatically upheld. As D.C. plays tug-of-war over the Supreme Court vacancy, CPP opponents are working to convince the lower courts that the CPP would spell economic disaster for the nation, while CPP’s proponents assert that the Plan would guide our nation away from coal-fired electricity and forestall millions of metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Obama Administration vowed to press forward with the President’s climate policy. If approved, the Clean Power Plan would set a historic precedent on how environmental laws are structured and serve as an example for national and global policies. The CPP was instrumental in influencing heavily polluting nations such as China and India to sign the Paris Agreement at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.  The Paris Agreement aims to prevent, mitigate and respond to climate change. If the Clean Power Plan is ultimately struck down, the decision would challenge the implementation of national and worldwide environmental policies. Evermore, the selection of our next President and Supreme Court Justice will greatly influence the future of clean energy and shape how environmental issues are prioritized and responded to in the years to come.