I wanted to drop in to quickly announce that the June edition of North American WindPower includes a cover article drafted by yours truly, Alan Claus Anderson and Britton Gibson of the Polsinelli Energy Group.  The article, entitled “On the Front Lines: Advocates Prevail in State RPS Fight,” provides an overview of the recent legislative battles that have occurred in Kansas in relation to the state Renewable Portfolio Standard.

As part of the combined legislative efforts of the wind industry, the Wind Coalition, the Climate and Energy Project, the Kansas Energy Information Network, and many other groups, Polsinelli and Scott White of KEIN prepared a report that detailed the economic benefits of wind generation for the state of Kansas.  We presented that report before several Kansas House and Senate Committees, as well as at a series of Business Leader Forums hosted by the Climate and Energy Project across the state to help educate business owners and community leaders about the numerous economic benefits of wind energy.

Ultimately, I’m happy to report that the efforts to repeal the Kansas RPS were unsuccessful.  However, there are numerous other states all across the United States that are facing very similar legislative challenges to RPS policies.  We believe that the lessons we have learned in Kansas can translate well into defending RPS policies in other states, and hopefully this article can serve as a template of sorts for organizing a successful defense of these important policy initiatives.

If you have any questions about the national or state-level attacks being raised against RPS policies, or about the economic benefits of the wind industry for a particular state or region, please feel free to write a comment, email me at lhagedorn@polsinelli.com, or call me at (913)234-7416.

For all of you who are interested in renewable energy projects in the State of Kansas, I’m pleased to bring you some good news this Monday morning.  The Energy Law Practice Group of Polsinelli Shughart PC (a law firm that I am proud to be a part of) is announcing an ongoing collaboration with the Kansas Energy Information Network (KEIN), a phenomenal informational resource for energy projects in Kansas.  This collaboration is the result of significant work by Alan Claus Anderson and J. Britton Gibson of Polsinelli Shughart and Scott W. White of KEIN and Scott White Consulting.

What does this mean for you?  It means that KEIN will continue to provide the excellent content that has been its staple since 2001, but will also have access to additional resources and analysis from one of the nation’s leading energy law firms.  We are all extremely excited about the potential benefits of this collaboration for everyone involved.

Additional information from the Polsinelli press release is provided below.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment, email me at lhagedorn@polsinelli.com, or seek me out at the Kansas Energy Conference being held this Tuesday and Wednesday in Manhattan, Kansas.

Polsinelli Shughart Energy Practice Group Partners with Kansas Energy Information Network

Press Releases – September 21, 2012

The Energy Practice Group of Polsinelli Shughart PC is proud to announce that it has teamed with the Kansas Energy Information Network (KEIN) to continue making useful energy information widely-available and easy to access. This collaboration will continue to provide an invaluable one-stop resource for the general public and energy professionals seeking information and analysis about energy projects in Kansas.

“We continue to be very active in energy projects and issues in Kansas and we’re excited to be able to work with Scott and the Kansas Energy Information Network on not only collecting information but providing analysis that can be used by people and companies interested in Kansas energy issues” said Alan Anderson, vice chair of the Energy Practice at Polsinelli Shughart.

Founded in 2001 by Scott White, the Kansas Energy Information Network (KEIN) has become the first stop for those who seek energy information related to Kansas and the surrounding region on the internet. The primary purpose of KEIN is to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy and a better understanding of energy issues by making reliable information available to the public.

“Polsinelli Shughart is one of the premier law firms for energy issues in the Midwest, and Kansas in particular. They have extensive knowledge and experience relating to Kansas energy issues, and their on-going involvement in the development of traditional and renewable energy resources in the state will undoubtedly continue to contribute to the success of these industries. It pleases us that Polsinelli is collaborating with KEIN and again demonstrating their commitment to the growth and strength of Kansas’ energy industries,” said Scott White, founder and executive director of KEIN.

“For years, we have followed and used the great information included on the Kansas Energy Information Network site. Scott has a great understanding of the issues and developments affecting energy projects in Kansas. We are very pleased to partner with him to build upon his solid work to continue making KEIN the preeminent source for information about Kansas energy projects,” said Britton Gibson, a shareholder in the Polsinelli Energy Practice Group.

Polsinelli Shughart’s Energy law practice is one of the leading energy practices in the Midwest and has widespread national experience representing energy companies, developers, lenders and investors in connection with the acquisition, development, finance and operation of a variety of energy facilities – including oil, gas and electric facilities and wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and biofuel renewable energy projects. The Polsinelli Energy group includes attorneys with a broad range of interdisciplinary experience and depth of knowledge. Polsinelli’s energy attorneys’ vast experience in real estate, environmental, construction, land use, finance, regulatory, business, and litigation issues is an invaluable resource for meeting energy clients’ objectives.

RELATED CONTACTS

Alan Anderson, T. 913.234.7464, aanderson@polsinelli.com

Scott W. White, T. 785.424.0090, Scott@KansasEnergy.org

About Polsinelli Shughart 

With more than 600 attorneys, Polsinelli Shughart (www.polsinelli.com) is a national law firm and recognized leader in the areas of health care, financial services, real estate, life sciences, energy and business litigation. Serving corporate, institutional and individual clients, the firm builds enduring relationships by creating value through our legal services – with passion, ingenuity and a sense of urgency. The firm has offices in Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Kansas City; Los Angeles; New York; Phoenix; St. Louis; Washington, D.C.; and Wilmington, DE. In California, Polsinelli Shughart LLP.

Welcome to another addition of the Renewable Law Link Round-Up.  Every Friday I let you, my faithful readers, sit back and relax while I pass along a few of the most interesting Renewable Energy stories and blog posts that I ran across this week:

1.) Changes in Wind Power Safety Regulations Could Rock the Industry

Jon Harmon, the Head of Renewable Industries for Wind Energy Update, posted a very informative piece on the Occupations Safety and Health Administration’s (“OSHA”) National Emphasis Program (“NEP”), which starting next year will require the wind industry to  step-up the enforcement of employee safety regulations.  As Jon explains, this new emphasis marks a distinct change from prior OSHA practices, as before investigations were only made in response to specific complaints of unsafe conditions or accidents on the project sites.

I absolutely agree with Jon that this new focus on renewable energy projects is something that all developers should be aware of as they design and implement their employee safety programs. 

2.)  Global Solar PV Installations Expected to Exceed 21 GW in 2011

A recent study by IMS Research,  a leading independent market research firm in the global electronics industry, predicts that 21 GW of new PV capacity will be installed in 2011, as compared to the 18 GW that was installed in 2010.  This is certainly not surprising, but it is certainly always nice to see these numbers continuing to grow.

3.)  New Report Debunks Anti-Wind Myths

A Candian environmental advocacy group, Environmental Defence, has recently released a report which attempts to correct the misinformation being promoted by anti-wind activists in Ontario.  The report, titled “Blowing Smoke: Correcting Anti-Wind Myths in Ontario,” argues that, despite a huge number of studies conducted all across the world, there is no scientific evidence of health impacts from wind power projects.  The report also demonstrates that wind power is technically viable and has economic and environmental benefits for Ontario. 

Though specifically tailored to Ontario, this report responds to issues that are universally raised in opposition to wind projects, and is well worth a read.

4.) Wisconsin RES threatened by new legislation

Thomas Content of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote a great article regarding a proposed amendment to the Wisconsin Renewable Energy Standard.  The amendment, Assembly Bill 146, seeks to eliminate the current shelf-life restrictions on Renewable Energy Credits in the state, which has the potential to significantly decrease the utilities’ motivation to continue developing renewable energy projects in the future. 

I’ve written before about the importance of setting a strict Shelf-Life requirement for RECs.  Issues like this reaffirm my fascination with the nuance in Renewable Energy Standard and Renewable Energy Credit legislation.  Changes which might seem insignificant at first glance can lead to huge impacts on the policies’ effectiveness down the road.

I’d also like to quickly applaud Mr. Content.  These are extremely complex issues, and it is a pleasure to see them handled as adeptly as he was able to do in this article.

CurtailmentA post yesterday by Susan Kraemer on the Clean Technica blog highlighted a shocking statistic from Dr. F. David Doty on GreenTechMedia:

“Approximately 25 TWh (yes, 25 terawatt-hours) of wind energy was curtailed (idled) in the U.S. last year to keep the off-peak grid energy price from frequently going negative.  That is about equal to the energy in 700 million gallons of gasoline just being thrown away. Curtailed wind energy in the U.S. appears likely to exceed 40 TWh in 2011″

Essentially, curtailment describes a situation where a renewable project is producing energy, but the transmission owner will not allow that energy to go onto the electrical grid. Thus, unless there is some way to store the energy, the energy is wasted.  The impacts of curtailment rarely get media coverage because it is complicated and usually largely controlled by dense contract language within Power Purchase Agreements (“PPAs”) and Interconnection Agreements between the renewable developer and the transmission owner.  Nonetheless, the impacts are significant for project developers.

To give a sense of the amount of energy that we are talking about here, curtailing 25 TWh of energy is roughly equivalent to throwing away a full year of energy output from a 115 MW project that is running at full capacity, or a 300 MW wind farm running at a good normal capacity factor of around 40%.

One of Susan’s main points is that this curtailment can hinder the hugely important financing of renewable projects, and ultimately can cut into the project’s bottom line.  I couldn’t agree more with her analysis.  The potential impact of curtailment can be substantial for a renewable energy project.  Whether or not the project developer gets paid for curtailed energy depends on how the PPA is drafted, and often the developer gets stuck with the bill.  If you are a project developer, 25 TWh should definitely be a statistic that you keep in your mind when negotiating and drafting PPAs with utilities and transmission companies.

Todd Ganos of the Forbes’ Great Speculations blog posted an excellent piece today entitled “Three Key Technologies for Energy Independence,” which outlines a few of the technologies that will play a significant role in the future of United States renewable energy.   Specifically, he highlights the importance of “super batteries” which can be charged quickly and efficiently, and super-conductive transmission lines which can transfer energy over vast distances with minimal energy losses.  As Mr. Ganos points out, the real benefit comes from the integration of these two technologies:

“The third technology is the combination of the first two:  that is, the rapid storage and rapid transmission of electrical energy.  It has been estimated that a single bolt of lightning has enough electrical energy to power the city of Los Angeles for a day.  The problem has always been our inability to capture and store that energy, Back To The Future notwithstanding.  It was the ultimate drink from the fire hose.

The combination of these two technologies has a way of funneling that stream.  Now consider the number of lightning strikes that occur in the Midwest in an average summer.  There are probably enough to power the entire United States for a year.”

I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Ganos’ analysis, but I would take it a step further.  Renewable energy will only gain a firm foothold in the United States when it reaches true cost parity with the cheapest traditional energy alternative, natural gas.  Thus, not only do we need to develop more effective energy storage and transmission alternatives, we need to ensure that the price tag of these technologies is low enough for renewable energy projects to be competitive with natural gas.