CPUC ordered to discontinue ReMAT

12/18/2017 9:39:06 AM

An announcement has been posted on the PG&E ReMAT website. Information about the announcement follows:

Reference #: 10
Date Posted: 12/18/2017 9:39:06 AM
Announcement:
On December 6, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted judgment in favor of Winding Creek Solar LLC regarding the Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff (ReMAT) program. The court ruled that ReMAT is not PURPA compliant and that the price offered should reflect the utility’s avoided costs. As such, the court ordered the CPUC to discontinue ReMAT.

The CPUC sent a letter to SCE, SDG&E, and PG&E stating that the IOUs must not execute any new ReMAT contracts, must not hold any new ReMAT program periods, and must not accept any new ReMAT applications, effective immediately, pending further Commission action or court order.

Please see the following link to view the letter and order on the Program Documents tab of this ReMAT Platform.
https://pge.accionpower.com/ReMAT/documents.asp

Please logon to the PG&E ReMAT website to view this announcement.

If you would no longer like to receive these announcement notifications, please contact the Site Administrator.

PG&E’s ReMAT Program website: https://pge.accionpower.com

Final Tax Bill Amends BEAT Provision to Keep Some PTC and ITC Value

“The market should be able to function.”

Congress released its final tax plan, with a BEAT fix in place.

Congress released its final tax plan, with a BEAT fix in place.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Republican lawmakers presented their final $1.5 trillion tax bill late Friday evening, with a repair to the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) provision that keeps 80 percent of the Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit values.

The bill does not include the alternative minimum tax and leaves the previously agreed-upon phase-downs of both credits in place.

The BEAT repair allows corporations to retain use of the ITC and the PTC to lower taxable income, leaving a key financing mechanism for renewables projects at least partially in place. However, the BEAT provision may now apply to a larger swath of companies and banks, upping the number of potential tax equity investors that are subject to the tax.

Tax lawyers and clean energy advocates are still parsing the bill’s full impact. But after a House version of the bill cut the PTC and ITC and a Senate version of the bill included the “poison-pill” BEAT provision, which would have eliminated billions of dollars in investment, the outcome is relatively positive for the clean energy industry.

“All in all, while more banks may be subject to the tax, the amount of tax credits at risk is reduced,” said Keith Martin, a transactional lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright. “I think the market should be able to function, but there will be a struggle over whether full value is given for that 20 percent that is at risk.”

Republicans designed the BEAT provision to keep multinational companies from “earnings stripping,” where companies can pay less in taxes by deducting payments they make to operations abroad.

Dropping the AMT comes as a relief to the clean energy industry, but tax bill watchers ultimately expected that change in the final bill. The more significant outcome is the adjustment to the BEAT provision, which clean energy trade organizations lobbied hard to change.

“It’s one of these things where you can’t call it a win for clean energy, because renewable energy isn’t helped by this bill,” said Gregory Jenner, a tax attorney at Stoel Rives. “But it is fair to say that they weren’t hurt nearly as bad as they could have been.”

After receiving clarity on the bill’s contents, renewable energy trade organizations and advocates offered cautious plaudits.

“From the perspective of the wind and solar industry, and certainly the companies we’ve talked to, we’re very grateful to the members of Congress in both chambers that were really working behind the scenes to make this possible,” said Isaac Brown, managing partner at 38 North Solutions. “Ideally we would like the status quo to remain in all respects, but given what passed out of the Senate a few weeks ago, this is certainly a significant improvement.”

However, the full implications of the BEAT change remain somewhat uncertain.

“We are grateful for the elimination of provisions that would have decimated future renewable energy growth and even penalized past investment in wind and solar power, but we remain concerned about the potential impacts of the new Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax on renewable energy finance,” said Gregory Wetsone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, in a statement. “It will take some time to assess the statutory language and determine how the financial institutions that invest in wind and solar power, and play a central role in allowing developers to utilize tax credits, will respond.”

“It’s very situational; it’s going to depend on each tax equity investor,” said Jenner, who added that the 80 percent fix could be enough for many corporations. “I am assuming that this gives the companies much of what they need. It may not be all, but it’s probably enough.”

While the fix keeps the tax equity market on more solid footing than the provision’s previous version, it also could knock some corporations out of the market. And it’s difficult to estimate the full extent of the bill’s implications on the $11 billion tax equity provided to renewables projects in 2016 and the $13 billion offered in 2015.

“Nobody will have precise numbers until the market starts functioning next year,” said Martin.

Lawmakers said the bill will head to the House floor on Tuesday and will reach the Senate floor sometime later next week. It’s expected to pass both chambers, after last-minute changes brought more senators on board. Legislators still hope to put it on President’s Trump desk before Christmas.

US Senate tax bill complicates renewable energy

Author: Keith MartinPublication | December 2, 2017

The US Senate made two last-minute changes in a massive tax-cut bill yesterday that could prove harmful to renewable energy.

Senate leaders rewrote the bill December 1 in a scramble to win over Republican Senators and make the math work under Senate budget rules before the bill passed early on December 2.

Corporate minimum tax

One change would move most US corporations from the regular corporate income tax to the alternative minimum tax.

Not all tax credits can be used against the minimum tax, and depreciation must be calculated more slowly.

The US has essentially two corporate income taxes. US companies calculate regular taxes at a 35% rate and then compare the amount to what they would have to pay at a 20% rate on a broader tax base. They pay whichever amount is greater.

Both the Senate and House tax bills reduce the regular corporate tax rate to 20%.

If both the regular tax rate and the minimum tax rate are 20%, then corporations will have to pay minimum taxes.

Investment tax credits can be used against minimum taxes. Investment tax credits are claimed on solar projects.

Production tax credits can be used to reduce minimum taxes for only the first four years after a project is originally placed in service. Production tax credits run today on the first 10 years of electricity output from a new project. They are claimed on wind, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, incremental hydroelectric and ocean energy projects. The change would have the effect of truncating the credit period to four years. It would apply to existing projects.

This may cause developers to switch to investment tax credits on new projects. Developers have the option currently on any new project that qualifies for production tax credits to claim an investment tax credit instead when the project is first put in service.

Production tax credits are also being claimed today on refined coal facilities, but all such facilities had to be in service by December 2011 to qualify. The bill would cut short any such remaining tax credits.

The Senate bill would not reduce the corporate tax rate to 20% until 2019. The House bill would reduce it starting in 2018. Thus, 2018 tax credits would not be affected if the rate change is delayed until 2019.

Depreciation is taken slightly more slowly under the minimum tax. Wind and solar projects are depreciated for regular tax purposes largely over five years using the 200% declining-balance method. The 150% declining-balance method must be used for minimum tax purposes.

BEAT

The Senate also made last-minute changes to a base erosion and anti-abuse tax, called BEAT, that the renewable energy industry fears could reduce the supply of tax equity.

The Senate bill would impose a base erosion tax on large companies that use cross-border payments to reduce their US tax bills below 10% of US income after adding back cross-border payments to affiliates. An example of such a payment is interest on an intercompany loan or a payment to a back office in India for services.

Large corporations making such payments would have to compare A to B. A is 10% of income with cross-border payments added back. B is the corporation’s regular tax liability reduced by the tax credits to which it is entitled. If B is less than A, then the US government will collect the difference as a tax.

At the last minute, the Senate increased the tax rate in A on banks and securities dealers to 11%. The banks appear to have traded a higher tax rate for being spared from having to add back into income cross-border “qualified derivative payments” to affiliates.

The base erosion tax may make banks and other large tax equity investors reluctant to finance projects in ways that entitle them to tax credits, since every dollar of tax credit has the potential to create a gap between A and B. The BEAT calculation would have to be made at the end of each year. A tax equity investor will not know when it invests whether it will receive the tax credits on which it is counting. Tax credits in existing tax equity financings could also be at risk. The tax would take effect in 2018.

Next steps

The House passed a different version of the bill on November 16.

The House would eliminate the corporate minimum tax as did the original Senate bill. The Senate had to restore the minimum tax to plug a $40 billion revenue gap.

There is no base erosion tax in the House bill. It would impose a 20% excise tax on some cross-border payments instead.

These and other differences will have to be ironed out in negotiations between the two houses and then a single bill sent back to both houses for another vote. The House is expected to name “conferees” on Monday. Republican leaders are eager to finish work on the bill by December 22, the earliest date on which the new Senator elected in the Alabama special election could take his seat, for fear that any new Senator will vote against the bill. Congress will be under pressure from the Trump administration to move more quickly.

Keith  Martin

Keith Martin

Washington, DC

PG&E convicted of obstructing blast probe, breaking safety laws

PG&E convicted of obstructing blast probe, breaking safety laws

Updated 6:18 pm, Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Community choice aggregation expands into New York

June 27, 2016 | By

New York is the seventh state to allow community choice aggregation, the Associated Press reported, joining California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Rhode Island and New Jersey with a state policy that permits local governments to aggregate electricity demand, often requiring alternative energy sources, while maintaining the existing electricity provider for transmission and distribution services.

Consumers pay a fixed price for power under a contract negotiated by the local buying group, or can opt out and switch back to the local utility. In New York, the development of community choice programs began as part of the state’s 2014 energy reforms intended to promote more renewable energy development, energy efficiency and a move from large-scale centralized power plants to a locally generated power network.

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Sign up for our FREE newsletter for more news like this sent to your inbox!Westchester Smart Power, which includes 112,000 homes in 20 communities in Westchester County, took bids from energy service companies to supply electricity for two local utility territories. ConEdison Solutions, sister company to utility Consolidated Edison, and Constellation Energy won the contracts, and agreed to charge lower rates than 2015 prices for either 100 percent renewable energy or a mix of fossil fuels, nuclear and some renewables.

“As an energy delivery company, we aren’t affected by our customers’ choice of energy supplier,” Clay Ellis, a spokesman for the utility NYSEG, which serves part of Westchester, told the AP. “We do buy energy since we’re also the default supplier for many customers, but the energy supply costs we pay are passed directly through to the customer with no markup.”

Consumers are expected to save $4 to $5 million a year, according to AP’s reporting. The region has some of the highest energy prices in the country, and 14 of the 20 communities opted for 100 percent renewable energy. About 7,000 customers, or 6.3 percent, opted to switch back to buying energy through the local utility.

“We’re getting calls from municipalities and grass-roots activists throughout New York,” said Mike Gordon, coordinator of Westchester Smart Power, launched as a pilot project in 2015 as the first community choice energy program in the state. “We are transforming the way we buy, consume and generate energy.”

Apple is making plans to sell excess power generated by rooftop solar panels

A subsidiary named Apple Energy LLC has applied to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to sell power from the site’s solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells, as well as from solar farms, hydroelectric plants and biogas facilities in Oregon, North Carolina, California, Nevada and Arizona, according to a June 6 application submitted by Apple to the agency. The filing was reported earlier by 9to5Mac.com.

[Alex Webb / BLOOMBERG]

The company has announced plans for 521 megawatts of solar projects globally. It’s using that clean energy to power all of its data centers, as well as most of its Apple Stores and corporate offices. In addition, it has other investments in hydroelectric, biogas, and geothermal power, and looks to purchase green energy off the grid when it can’t generate its own power. In all, Apple says it generates enough electricity to cover 93 percent of its energy usage worldwide.

[Jordan Golson / THE VERGE]

Though Apple is not planning to move into Apple Campus 2 until next year, it can start selling the energy starting this August. Last year, Apple invested $850 million in a 1,300-acre solar farm in Monterey County to provide energy for its offices, retail stores, and a data center in the state.

[MB / FAST COMPANY]

As The Verge notes, the company’s newest environmental responsibility report says it only generates enough energy to provide 93 percent of the electricity it needs worldwide. However, Apple might have plans to expand its farms even further to prepare for new projects, such as charging stations for the long-rumored Apple car.

 

French Floating Solar Company Sets Up Shop In U.S.

France-based Ciel et Terre says it is extending its large-scale floating solar photovoltaic (PV) technology to the U.S. with a new team in Petaluma, Calif., and manufacturing facility in Georgia in order to provide a system that is entirely made domestically.

The company’s floating Hydrelio platform allows standard solar PV panels to be installed on large manmade bodies of water, such as industrial reservoirs, dams or irrigation ponds. This is especially valuable for energy- and water-intensive industries that cannot afford to waste resources, including at water treatment plants and reclamation facilities, wineries and dairy farms, according to the company.

Ciel et Terre says that in addition to the direct benefits of generating renewable energy and avoiding the use of valuable land, floating PV technology also helps the environment by covering a significant surface area on a body of water, thus conserving water by reducing evaporation and limiting algae growth.

The company has implemented projects in seven countries, including Japan, Korea, China, U.K., France, Brazil, and most recently in the U.S., with demo systems in California and Florida. With more than 40 MW of solar PV power production currently utilizing the Hydrelio system, Ciel et Terre says it will be expanding to 100 MW of floating solar this year.

Paris Climate Deal Seen Costing $12.1 Trillion Over 25 Years

January 29, 2016

By Alex Morales, Bloomberg

If the world is serious about halting the worst effects of global warming, the renewable energy industry will require $12.1 trillion of investment over the next quarter century, or about 75 percent more than current projections show for its growth.

 

That’s the conclusion of a report setting out the scale of the challenge facing policymakers as they look for ways to implement the Paris Agreement that in December set a framework for more than 195 nations to rein in greenhouse gases.

 

The findings from Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Ceres, a Boston-based coalition of investors and environmentalists, show that wind parks, solar farms and other alternatives to fossil fuels are already on course to get $6.9 trillion over the next 25 years through private investment spurred on by government support mechanisms. Another $5.2 trillion is needed to reach the United Nations goal of holding warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) set out in the climate agreement.

 

“The clean energy industry could make a very significant contribution to achieving the lofty ambitions expressed by the Paris Agreement,” said Michael Liebreich, founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a London-based research group. “To do so, investment volume is going to need to more than double, and do so in the next three to five years. That sort of increase will not be delivered by business as usual. Closing the gap is both a challenge and an opportunity for investors.”

 

The required expenditure averages about $484 billion a year over the period, compared with business-as-usual levels of $276 billion, according to Bloomberg calculations. Renewables attracted a record $329 billion of investment in 2015, BNEF estimates.

 

While the figures are large, they’re not as eye-watering as the International Energy Agency’s projection that it will cost $13.5 trillion between now and 2030 for countries to implement their Paris pledges, and that an extra $3 billion on top of that will help meet the temperature target. Those figures aren’t just limited to renewables: they also include energy efficiency measures.

 

Envoys from 195 nations sealed the first deal to fight climate change that binds all countries to cut or limit greenhouse gases at a United Nations summit in Paris last month. They agreed to hold temperatures to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

 

“Policymakers worldwide need to provide stable, long- lasting policies that will unleash far bigger capital flows,” said Sue Reid, vice-president of climate and clean energy at Ceres, a nonprofit group. “The Paris agreement sent a powerful signal, creating tremendous momentum for policymakers and investors to take actions to accelerate renewable energy growth at the levels needed.”

Cheers,
Bruce Karney

Congress Passes Tax Credits for Solar and Wind: ‘Sausage-Making at Its Most Intense’

Capitol_Building_410_282_c1

 

 

 

 

 

 

The biggest federal policy development of the year for renewables plays out on Congress’ last day of work in 2015.

By Stephen Lacey
December 18, 2015

Lawmakers in the House and Senate passed a spending package today that includes multi-year extensions of solar and wind tax credits, plus one-year extensions for a range of other renewable energy technologies.

The pair of bills, which included tax extenders and $1.1 trillion in funding to keep the government running for the next year, passed hours before lawmakers adjourned for the holidays.

“May the force be with you,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, urging her fellow Senators to vote in favor of the package shortly after the House approved the bills.

The force was certainly with renewables.

Under the legislation, the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar will be extended for another three years. It will then ramp down incrementally through 2021, and remain at 10 percent permanently beginning in 2022.

The 2.3-cent Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind will also be extended through next year. Projects that begin construction in 2017 will see a 20 percent reduction in the incentive. The PTC will then drop 20 percent each year through 2020.

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Also included were geothermal, landfill gas, marine energy and incremental hydro, which will each get a one-year PTC extension. Those technologies will also qualify for a 30 percent ITC, if developers choose. In addition, the bill expanded grants for energy and water efficiency.

Business groups and analysts say the extensions will support tens of billions of dollars in new investment and hundreds of thousands of new jobs throughout the U.S.

“There’s no way to overstate this — the extension of the solar ITC is the most important policy development for U.S. solar in almost a decade,” said MJ Shiao, GTM’s director of solar research.

According to GTM Research, the ITC extension will help spur nearly 100 cumulative gigawatts of solar installations by 2020, resulting in $130 billion in total investment. More than $40 billion of investment will be “directly attributable to the passage of the extension,” said Shiao.

The American Wind Energy Association expects similar growth. The group did not issue precise figures, but said the PTC extension would support tens of gigawatts of new wind projects through 2020.

The legislation also lifts a 40-year ban on exports of crude oil produced in the U.S. In exchange for lifting the ban, Democrats pushed for multi-year extensions of renewable energy tax credits and demanded that Republicans strip out any riders that would weaken environmental laws.

Both sides got what they wanted.

However, Pelosi publicly worried yesterday that she didn’t have enough votes to support the bill. Many Democrats expressed concern about the oil export ban tradeoff, saying it would increase subsidies to fossil fuels and boost carbon emissions.

Congressional leaders and the White House lobbied hard to convince the Democratic base that the bill would be a win for the environment.

“While lifting the oil ex­port ban re­mains atrocious policy, the wind and solar tax credits in the Om­ni­bus will eliminate around 10 times more car­bon pollution than the ex­ports of oil will add,” wrote Pelosi in a letter to lawmakers.

Katherine Hamilton, a partner with 38 North Solutions, called the bill “sausage-making at its most intense.”

“The product should be palatable for most parties in clean energy. Extensions for renewables and efficiency tax credits were key sweeteners. In addition, clean energy R&D funding, land and water conservation funds, and clean energy funds were included in the deal,” she said.

Other independent analysts found that the deal would be a net positive for the climate. Although emissions would increase slightly because of increased drilling activity, they would be easily offset by increasing renewable energy development and decreased coal consumption.

“Our bottom line: Extension of the tax credits will do far more to reduce carbon dioxide emissions over the next five years than lifting the export ban will do to increase them. While this post offers no judgment of the budget deal as a whole, the deal, if passed, looks like a win for climate,” wrote Council on Foreign Relations fellows Michael Levi and Varun Sivaram.

The tax credit extensions cap a big month for renewable energy policy.

In early December, world leaders agreed to a framework for lowering global greenhouse gas emissions — a deal that will leverage hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment for clean technologies.

And earlier this week, California regulators issued a new proposal on net metering that would preserve the retail rate paid to rooftop solar systems. The new rules — combined with the continued federal tax credit — will ensure strong activity in the top solar state.

National groups will now likely reset their sights on local battles around the U.S., said Hamilton.

“The renewable energy industries can turn their focus to state and local policies, siting and permitting issues, and compliance strategies for the Clean Power Plan,” she said.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law today.

Congress Is on the Verge of Passing Multi-Year Extensions for Solar and Wind Tax Credits

Lawmakers reached a compromise as part of a spending package. Will there be enough votes to pass it this week?

by Stephen Lacey
December 16, 2015
28

House Republicans unveiled legislation late Tuesday night that included multi-year extensions of tax credits for solar and wind.

The credit extensions were attached to a broad set of spending measures as part of a negotiation with Democrats over lifting the ban on exports of U.S. crude oil.

Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, predicted in November that solar tax credits would likely be added to any deal around lifting the oil export ban. He called it “our best opportunity.”

“Democrats are saying, ‘We need to get something for it,’ and the White House is chiming in too,” said Resch.

This month, Republicans demanded an end to the 40-year-old ban as part of a legislative tax and spending package that would fund the government through next fall.

Although many Democrats oppose ending the ban, they saw it as an opportunity to demand extensions of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar and the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind.

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Yesterday afternoon, Democratic leaders said they would only support the Republican proposal if renewable energy credits were added to a tax or spending bill.

“We have 2 paths: 1. Pair oil export ban with policies to reduce carbon emissions; 2. Pass gov’t funding without oil/renewables,” tweeted Senator Harry Reid yesterday afternoon.

In 1975, Congress made it illegal for domestic drillers to ship crude out of the country. The export ban was designed to protect America from volatile oil prices in the wake of the Arab Oil Embargo. As U.S. production dwindled over the proceeding years, the policy was not contested.

Today, America is a leading producer of crude — and drillers argue they should be able to export oil as an incentive to expand production.

Some see the tradeoff as a good deal.

“An oil-exports-for-renewables-tax-credits deal looks likely to be a win-win. Removing the oil export ban is good policy. Supporting zero-carbon energy innovation, including through appropriate deployment subsidies, is good policy,” wrote Michael Levi, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in a recent analysis of the deal.

Last night, House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled an omnibus spending bill that would lift the ban, while also extending solar and wind tax credits for two years.

The PTC — a 10-year, 2.3-cent per kilowatt-hour credit — would be extended through 2020. After December of 2016, the credit would be cut each year until it fully expired in 2020.

The ITC — a 30 percent credit for utility, commercial and rooftop solar installations — would get phased down through 2022. The credit would stay at 30 percent through 2019, and then fall to 26 percent in 2020. It would drop to 22 percent in 2021 and 10 percent in 2022. The bill also offers a commence-construction clause that would extend the credit to any project in development before 2024.

“The extension to the federal ITC is without question a game-changer for U.S. solar’s growth trajectory. Between now and 2020, the U.S. solar market is poised to see a number of new geographies open up with a 30% ITC, within both distributed and utility-scale solar,” said Cory Honeyman, a senior solar analyst at GTM Research.

The House and Senate will likely vote on the package Thursday night or Friday morning.

Although Democrats have signaled their willingness to support the deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Bloomberg that broad agreement wasn’t guaranteed — even with strong extensions of renewable energy credits.

Opponents see lifting the ban as a massive subsidy to oil producers and an environmental risk. In an op-ed this week, climate activist Bill McKibben explained why so many progressive environmentalists opposed a change to the law.

“What makes the plan to lift the ban especially galling is that the administration and congressional Democrats insist they’re getting a reasonable deal because the Republicans will concede tax breaks for solar and wind producers in return. But the logic of the Paris accords — with their theoretical commitment to a world that will warm just 1.5 or 2 degrees — means that we don’t get to keep making this kind of tradeoff,” wrote McKibben.

Speaker Ryan assured reporters that he would get the votes to pass the package.

“I am not going to predict how the vote count will go down,” Ryan said this morning during a press event. “Look, in negotiations like this, you win some, you lose some. Democrats won some, they lost some, we won some, we lost some. At the end of the day, we are going to get this done.”