The Massachusetts electric distribution companies (“Distribution Companies”), together with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, have asked the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to approve a second request for proposal (“RFP”) for long-term offshore wind contracts in accordance with Section 83C of the Green Communities Act (“83C”). Pursuant to 83C, the Distribution Companies are authorized to solicit up to 1600MW of offshore wind energy generation in staggered rounds of procurements. … More
Category Archives: Wind
Governor Baker addressed a room full of offshore wind stakeholders at “The Future of Offshore Wind” Forum hosted by the Environmental League of Massachusetts on Wednesday morning. He applauded the developers, environmental groups, legislators and local students for the progress made in recent years which has led to a dramatic decrease in the price of offshore wind energy to ratepayers in recent years.
Thanks to a bill Governor Baker signed into law in 2016,… More
Last week, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources released its Comprehensive Energy Plan. It’s a generally solid piece of work, even if it doesn’t say anything hugely surprising. Its various policy recommendations can be summarized fairly easily: electrify and conserve.
The first recommendation is nicely illustrated by this pie chart from the CEP. In 2016, only 17% of Massachusetts’ energy demand of 1,074 trillion BTUs was from the electric sector.… More
Our client Boston University (BU) has executed a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with ENGIE Generation North America (ENGIE) pursuant to which BU will purchase wind energy from a South Dakota wind farm under development by an affiliate of ENGIE. The establishment of this long-term contract will allow ENGIE to secure financing to construct the renewable energy facility, which will result in the addition of new clean energy to the grid in a region heavily reliant on fossil fuels. … More
Yesterday, June 7, 2018, the Massachusetts the Ways and Means Committee released S2545, “An Act to promote a clean energy future.” The far-reaching bill has the potential to provide new opportunities for renewable resources and in so doing, may also affect the competitive markets in the region. Among other things, the bill would:
- establish new interim greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction limits;…
The Evaluation Team in Massachusetts’ Section 83C Offshore Wind Generation request for proposals (“RFP”) for long term contracts for offshore wind has announced that our client Vineyard Wind was named the winning bidder in the RFP for an offshore wind project to be built off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The project will include approximately 800 megawatts of offshore wind energy generation as well as a generator lead line connection. … More
Massachusetts Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change Releases Far-Reaching Draft Legislation
Yesterday, February 12, 2018, the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change released a Proposed Draft of legislation staking out an ambitious and far-reaching set of policies across a wide range of sectors.
There is a lot in the proposal and we are still reviewing the details, including the differences among mandates, targets, goals and discretionary authority.
For now,… More
The Houston Chronicle reported that electric generation capacity from wind now exceeds that of coal in Texas. That’s not even counting Vistra’s recent announcement that it intends to close three coal-fired plants.
To those who might point out that wind is intermittent and it thus has lower capacity factors, the same Chronicle story reports at least one expert prediction that wind generation will exceed that of coal by 2019.… More
In April, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry ordered the Department of Energy (DOE) to perform a 60-day review and produce a report regarding the reliability of the energy grid and potential concerns regarding early retirement of baseload generators. Perry’s request explicitly solicited information concerning “[t]he extent to which continued regulatory burdens, as well as mandates and tax and subsidy policies, are responsible for forcing the premature retirement of baseload power plants.” Perry has argued that government subsidies for intermittent generators such as solar and wind and onerous environmental regulations lead to premature retirements of coal and nuclear power plants,… More
Presented by Foley Hoag LLP and NECEC
After decades of speculation about offshore wind’s future in the United States, the industry that has long powered grids in Europe has finally arrived in the Northeast. In the last year America’s first offshore wind project–off the coast of Rhode Island–started spinning and delivering power to the grid, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill authorizing the procurement of 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind,… More
According to Bloomberg BNA (subscription required), last week, for the first time ever, more than 50% of the load in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas service area was supplied by wind power. This is the state that consumes more coal than any other. Installed wind capacity is now more than 18,000 megawatts and is projected to be as high as 28,000 MW by 2020.… More
According to the American Wind Energy Association blog, installed wind capacity in the United States has reached 82,000 MW. That puts it past the 80,000 MW of installed hydropower capacity and makes wind the largest installed renewable energy resource.
While the overall number represents a significant milestone, some of the details are interesting as well. Wind represents 5.5% of US generation. Moreover,… More
MA Appellate Tax Board Again Finds Virtually Net Metered Solar Facility Exempted from Property Taxation
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Appellate Tax Board (the “Board”) has again ruled that a ‘virtual’ net-metered solar PV project is exempted from property taxation under clause “forty-fifth” of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 59, Section 5. This time, the board promulgated its Findings of Fact and Report in KTT, LLC v. Board of Assessors of The Town of Swansea.
The Findings represent yet another major change in the application of the Commonwealth’s property tax exemption for off-site,… More
DOE and DOI Release the New National Offshore Wind Strategy: Perhaps Prosperity Is Finally Just Around the Corner
Last Friday, DOE and DOI issued an update of their National Offshore Wind Strategy. It’s a moderately aggressive strategy, seeking to deploy at least 86 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2050. The report highlights both the significant opportunities and potential for growth and also some of the remaining potential roadblocks.
On the plus side:
- The combination of fossil retirements and demand growth provide significant incentive for offshore wind development.…
Massachusetts Legislature Enacts Significant Energy Bill in Support of Offshore Wind and Hydro Procurement, Storage and Transmission
Late last night, the Massachusetts legislature enacted House Bill 4568, an act to promote energy diversity (the “Act”). Overall, the Act marks a compromise between the House’s original procurement-only legislation and the Senate’s more comprehensive “omnibus” bill. It is expected Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will sign the legislation shortly. After that, regulations will be required to be implemented and other regulatory actions will need to be taken by Massachusetts’ Department of Public Utilities,… More
This week a draft of the long-awaited Massachusetts energy bill was reported out of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. The bill would require the Commonwealth’s distribution companies to competitively solicit long-term, fifteen- to twenty-year contracts for large-scale offshore wind and hydroelectric power. Notably absent from the bill are provisions addressing resources such as solar, onshore wind, nuclear, energy storage, and energy efficiency.
The bill seeks to jumpstart the development of offshore wind in federal lease areas by directing distribution companies to enter into contracts for 1,200 MW of offshore wind power before July 1,… More
Solar and wind tax credits aren’t going to ride off into the sunset just yet.
On December 18, 2015, Congress extended the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and Production Tax Credit (PTC) for five years.
The Section 48 ITC for commercial installations had been set to decrease from 30% to 10% at the end of 2016 and the Section 25D individual tax credit would have disappeared altogether.… More
The Baker Administration announced on July 9 that it filed a bill for sourcing long-term hydroelectric power in the Commonwealth. Hydroelectric power currently provides a small portion of electricity consumed in Massachusetts. According to the Energy Information Administration, it ranks behind natural-gas, nuclear, coal and other renewable energy sources.
The bill, titled “An Act Relative to energy sector compliance with the Global Warming Solutions Act,” would require the State’s electric distribution companies to solicit proposals for hydroelectric contracts spanning 15 to 25 years. … More
Solar-related employment in the United States now accounts for more jobs than coal mining. According to the 2015 Economic Report of the President, about 174,000 American jobs are attributable to the solar energy industry. The report also includes data for coal-related employment, which has dropped from a high of almost 400,000 jobs in the early 1950s, to fewer than 100,000 jobs today.
Employment in the solar industry grew over 85% between 2010 and 2014,… More
Last November the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) announced that over 742,000 acres of offshore Massachusetts land would be auctioned for commercial wind development by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) as part of the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan. The land was divided into four leasable tracts of varying sizes, and twelve companies qualified to bid.
That auction took place on January 29th,… More
According to this week’s Boston Globe, both NStar and National Grid have terminated their power purchase agreements with Cape Wind, citing the failure by Cape Wind to meet a December 31, 2014 deadline to obtain financing and begin construction. Cape Wind is asserting that the utilities may not validly terminate the PPAs, arguing that the protracted litigation against the project excuses Cape Wind’s obligation to meet the December 31 date.… More
Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board Finds MA Department of Revenue’s Denial of Property Tax Exemption for Virtually Net Metered Solar Facility “Incorrect,” Based on an “Illusory Distinction” and “Entitled to No Deference”
On December 4, 2014, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Appellate Tax Board (the “Board”) promulgated its Findings of Fact and Report in Forrestall Enterprises, Inc. v. Board of Assessors of The Town of Westborough.
The Findings represent a major change in the application of the Commonwealth’s property tax exemption for off-site, net-metered and virtual-net-metered wind and solar systems. For some time now, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (“DOR”) has taken the position that certain net metered solar and wind systems,… More
The Massachusetts DPU Issues Regulations to Increase Net Metering Caps, but What Does the Future Hold?
On November 4th, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued emergency regulations to implement the increase in net metering caps that was included in the thermal energy bill that passed at the end of the legislative session (An Act Relative to Credit for Thermal Energy Generated with Renewable Fuels, Chapter 251 of the Acts of 2014). The action here was in the legislation, which we wrote about in August. … More
The Hub is Still a Hub for Cleantech: Reports Highlight Boston and Massachusetts Clean Energy Achievement
This week, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick lauded the progress of the Cleantech sector in Massachusetts, and the over 88,000 jobs the Commonwealth’s clean energy businesses provide. In fact, employment in a clean energy field now represents 2.4% of all employees in Massachusetts. The 2014 Clean Energy Industry Report highlights the state’s “thriving local market for clean energy and a strongly supportive business environment.”
The sector has grown 47% since 2010. … More
Nicaragua and its neighboring countries are continuing to develop their renewable energy sectors, with an eye not only towards domestic markets but also regional customers. Following the completion in 2013 of the Central American Electrical Interconnection System (SIEPAC) transmission line, Nicaragua’s grid is now interconnected with those of Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala (with the prospect of Mexico, Colombia and Belize joining as well). The newly-formed Central American Regional Electricity Market (MER) acts as a single,… More
US Wind, Inc. has been awarded provisional offshore wind development rights to an area off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland. The auction was the third BOEM auction resulting in a winning bid. The first, for an area off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, went to an affiliate of Deepwater Wind for $3.8 million; the second, for an area off the coast of Virginia, went to an affiliate of Dominion for $1.6 million.… More
It was a tough spring for parties seeking to use zoning and land-use laws to oppose wind turbines in Massachusetts. A number of Massachusetts Courts have recently rejected challenges to local decision makers’ approvals of wind turbine projects. While these cases have generally involved the application of settled law, a favorable body of case law is developing for wind turbine developers.
- In March, the Land Court dismissed a challenge to a building permit for wind turbines as out of time,…
This month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new solicitation for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, to provide loan guarantees of up to $4 billion. The solicitation identifies five technology areas of focus: advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy projects; existing facility enhancements; and efficiency improvement projects. The loan guarantee program is intended to help project developers secure commercial financing by mitigating some of the risks associated with emerging technology projects.… More
As explained in a previous post, the sequester beginning on March 1, 2013 required Section 1603 Payments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 face cuts of 7.2 or 8.7 percent dependent upon the effective date of the Award Letter. While guidance the Internal Revenue Service recently released clarifies how to calculate tax treatment of Section 1603 Payments affected by the recent sequester, it fails to provide any certainty beyond September 30,… More
A report published last week by researchers at the University of Connecticut and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory looked at more than 122,000 home sales that occurred between 1998 and 2012 in proximity to current or proposed wind turbines in Massachusetts. Like the study discussed in this space last summer
(which shared a co-author), it found no statistical evidence that wind turbines impact the value of nearby properties. … More
Last summer, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs announced an initiative to support municipalities, developers, and other stakeholders in improving the siting process for wind energy projects in Massachusetts. Part of that initiative was a directive that the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) investigate best practices and develop guidance for siting wind energy facilities. On October 31, the DPU formally started an investigation (docketed as D.P.U.… More
As I last discussed in June, during the past few years, proximate property owners have increasingly raised complaints about the siting and operation of wind turbines in Massachusetts. This phenomenon is hardly unique to Massachusetts and has been drawing attention nationally and internationally. Last month, two interesting developments with respect to the effects wind turbines may, or may not, have on nearby properties focused on whether wind turbines impact property values.… More
On Monday, the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the nation’s second offshore wind energy lease sale – this time for an area off the Virginia coast. The first competitive lease sale, for areas off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, is scheduled for July 31. The auction for this new area, approximately 112,799 acres located 23.5 nautical miles from the Virginia Beach coastline,… More
Last week, Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan announced an “inter-agency initiative . . . to provide support and guidance to municipalities, developers and stakeholders for land-based wind projects.”
Readers who have followed the issue of local opposition to wind turbines in Massachusetts know that over the last few years small wind-generation projects have come under increasing fire from nearby residents and advocacy groups complaining of health and other impacts from the operation of wind turbines. … More
On Tuesday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced that the first auction of leases of offshore wind areas will be held on July 31. Even though it now looks as though Cape Wind will eventually get to the finish line, this competitive lease auction, for areas off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, can really be seen to mark the true beginning of an offshore wind market.… More
Technically, We Could Green The Grid and Keep The Lights On; Do We Have The Policies to Get Us There?
One concern with adding large amounts of renewable generation to the electric grid is that the variability of renewable resources such as solar and wind might render the electric grid unreliable. According to a recent report from Synapse Energy Economics, that concern is misplaced and we already have the technological capacity to replace 100% of U.S. coal generation and 25% of U.S. nuclear generation with renewables by 2050 while maintaining grid reliability.… More
On April 15, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service issued anticipated guidance defining the new “beginning construction” milestone for Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit eligible energy facilities.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act, enacted January 2, 2013 changed the former PTC sunset date for wind projects from January 1, 2013 to January 1, 2014. It also changed the familiar “placed-in-service” milestone to a new “beginning of construction” milestone,… More