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solar energy lawyer

FERC OK’s Apple’s Plan to Sell Renewable Power

solar panels

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) recently authorized Apple to sell electricity in wholesale markets by approving the company’s request for “market-based rate authority.” FERC’s approval means that Apple will be able to sell excess power generated at its renewable facilities, including large solar installations in Arizona, Nevada, and California. Apple also recently entered into a long-term power purchase agreement with First Solar, Inc., to purchase the output from a 130 MW solar facility near San Francisco for approximately $850 million over 25 years. FERC’s order authorizes Apple to sell its excess electricity in several wholesale markets across the country, but not directly to retail customers. FERC reviewed Apple’s request and found that the technology giant’s entry into wholesale energy markets would not result undue market power, affect pricing, or suppress competition.

Apple’s plan to become a seller – instead of simply a user and owner – of renewable energy is consistent with the company’s stated goal of installing 4 gigawatts of renewable energy around the world by 2020. The company’s website also claims that 93% Apple’s data centers and manufacturing operations are currently powered by renewable energy resources.

Apple’s entry into the wholesale energy market is part of a trend among large tech companies to operate as sellers and developers – and not merely end users – of renewable energy. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have invested billions of dollars in recent years to develop renewable energy facilities in the U.S. and abroad. Google, for example, is currently purchasing the output from over 2 gigawatts of renewable energy and received market-based rate authority from FERC in 2010. As large U.S. corporations acquire energy facilities and increase their long-term renewable purchases, it seems likely that many companies, like Apple and Google, will seek to sell excess generation in wholesale markets.

If you would like to know more about renewable power regulation or discuss issues related to energy law, please contact one of the energy lawyers at GreeneHurlocker.

We’re In with the Renewable Leaders.

We’re new members of The Virginia Renewable Energy Alliance, which means we’re allied with the brightest renewable energy wind turbines and solar arraysexperts in Virginia, many of whom we’ve known for years. From the utility industry to developers, from engineers to associations and educational institutions, VA-REA offers tremendous opportunities for all branches of the renewable industry to connect and collaborate.

This group seeks to leverage the diverse interest and market knowledge of members to find solutions that:

  1. Identify and close the gaps to renewable energy develop through collaboration on targeted initiatives;
  2. Research and support best industry practices;
  3. Generate policy analysis;
  4. Serve as an authority and resource through public education; and
  5. Foster coordination and partnerships through networking opportunities.

We’re proud to be a part of this effort and the continued advancement of Virginia’s renewable energy market! You can learn more about VA-REA here:

Great Clients and Good Works

Sigora Solar, one of our longstanding clients, is building electrical capacity at Sigora Haiti in Mole St. Nicolas and, just a bit up the road, is providing a solar canopy in a small fishing village to bring cheap and continuous power to these isolated homes. The entire Mole St. Nichols grid is being built by a local Haitian team, providing jobs and economic power in this country still suffering the effects of the 2010 earthquake. You can learn (and see) more in the video below.

We are proud to have the chance to work with the Sigora team! Keep up the good works.

Cheers to everyone who joined us last night!

We were grateful for the large crowd of clients, colleagues and friends who came to enjoy our Great Tastes of Virginia reception at the Williamsburg Lodge during the MACRUC Annual Education Conference. The weather cooperated this year and we saw a lot of smiles around the patio as you enjoyed food and beverages native to or close to the hearts of Virginia. Click here to see our photos.

Maryland Proposes Community Solar Pilot Program Regulations

sunset-solar-squareThe proposed regulations for Maryland’s Community Solar Pilot Program were published in the Maryland Register on April 29, 2016.  Here is a link to the Community Solar Pilot Program rules as published. Under the proposed rules, customers that subscribe to a community solar energy generating system will receive full retail rate credit for their subscription up to break-even (i.e. the point where their subscribed generation matches their usage). However, credit for subscribed generation exceeding a customer’s actual usage will be limited to the supply price (transmission and distribution excluded).

The proposed program structure includes: (1) an overall cap of 1.5 percent of 2015 Maryland peak demand; (2) annual capacity caps for each of the three years of the program; (3) a per-utility cap of 1.5 percent of 2015 Maryland peak demand; (4) capacity allocations to “small,” “open,” and “Low and Moderate Income (LMI)” categories; and (5) a limit of 350 accounts per community solar energy generating system.

Comments on the proposed rules are due to the Maryland Public Service Commission by May 30, 2016. For more information about Maryland Community Solar Pilot Program, please contact one of GreeneHurlocker’s energy attorneys.

Dance at Deep Run Raises over $223,000

Deep Run High School’s Marathon Dance, which we talked about here, here, and here, raised over $223,000 for charitable causes last Friday and Saturday. The young people who organize and stage one of the nation’s largest and most successful marathon dance fund raisers deserve all the credit. Below are a a few pix from the event.

Deep run Dance Marathon 2016 Deep run Dance Marathon 2016 Deep run Dance Marathon 2016

The Dance Will Soon Begin

Deep Run High School’s Marathon Dance, which we talked about here, here, and here, will kick off tonight. We’re proud of these young people who organize and stage one of the nation’s largest and most successful marathon dance fund raisers, and who have donated over a million dollars to charity through the years. We’ll be there tonight and we will let you know how it goes!  Here’s the story that the Henrico Citizen ran this week.

Secure Futures Project Underway at University of Richmond

As we mentioned here, our client Secure Futures is installing a solar facility on the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness. That work has just begun in earnest, as announced by the UR Communications office here.

As alumni of our local university and law school (Eric Hurlocker, BA ’87, UR Law ’92 and Eric Wallace, UR Law ’13), we could not be prouder of having a role in this project. Since our law practice is focused on the energy and renewable energy markets, we see this project as a much-needed step in advancing renewable energy development in the Commonwealth and demonstrating the benefits of this industry to the Virginia economy.

We’re looking forward to watching this project bring solar power to the University. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you have any questions about the growth of solar power or utility regulation in Virginia, please contact one of our renewable energy lawyers.

Summary of DEQ’s Solar Permit By Rule (PBR) Requirement Small Solar Exemptions

We’ve examined in detail the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) changes to implement Virginia’s 2009 “Small Renewable Energy Projects” legislation (VA Code 10.1-1197.6). The statute moved authority from the State Corporation Commission (“SCC”) to DEQ over protection of natural resources (specifically wildlife and historic resources) with respect to renewable energy projects. Pursuant to the statute, DEQ has jurisdiction to approve PBR applications for solar projects with a rated capacity of 100 megawatts or less, while the SCC retains jurisdiction for projects with a rated capacity over 100 megawatts. DEQ’s regulations are set forth in 9 VAC 15-60 of the Virginia Administrative Code. The details are on our post here.

MDV-SEIA Sponsors Clean Energy Lobby Day Again

MDV-SEIA elogoOn February 9, 2016, the Maryland, DC, Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA) and the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council will host Clean Energy Lobby Day (CELD) 2016. The event brings together the advanced energy businesses of Virginia with key legislators to advocate for clean technology bills and solar energy-friendly legislation. More than 100 business representatives from Virginia’s solar, wind and energy efficiency industries generally attend.

“GreeneHurlocker will be there and we hope you will join us in this incredible opportunity to make our voices heard,” said Eric Hurlocker, co-managing member of the firm and a Board member of MDV-SEIA. If you want to know more about MDV-SEIA or Clean Energy Day, contact Hurlocker or any of our Virginia energy lawyers.