This is the first of three articles on the Solar Industry and Forced Labor. Here we focus on regulation. Articles in the coming weeks will focus on issues facing importers and their suppliers, and on investors and their requirements.

Continue Reading Clean Energy’s Messy Problem: The Solar Industry, the U.S. Government, and the Complex Task of Combatting Forced Labor

Continued commitments to renewable generation in 2021 mean that corporate purchasers remain major drivers in the development of new wind and solar power generation projects in the United States.  Megawatt numbers vary depending on the source; however, there is no dispute about the significant role played by corporates.  While corporate offtakers were initially focused on wind generation, corporate offtakers now regularly contract for solar generation as well.

Continue Reading Corporate Offtake Agreements are a Driving Force Behind the Shift Toward Renewable Energy in the United States

  • U.S. Customs halts the import of silica-based products from made by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. because the products are suspected of being produced using forced labor.
  • For future imports of solar energy equipment sourced from Xinjiang, China, the United States may use Withhold Release Orders (WROs) to block entry into the United States if there is reasonable suspicion of forced labor in the supply chain.
  • The renewables industry is working together and with regulators to find ways to certify its supply chains are free of forced labor.


Continue Reading Anti-Forced Labor Measures Turn Up the Heat on Chinese Solar Equipment Suppliers

Offshore Wind Goes West.  On May 25, the Biden administration and the State of California announced an effort to develop areas off of the coast of California for up to 4.6 GW of offshore wind generation.  While Northeastern states and project developers are poised to begin bringing commercial scale offshore projects to market, this announcement represents the first concrete step to open up the West coast to offshore wind development.  Wind generation in the waters off the West coast will face some unique challenges (such as water depths that will force the use of floating wind turbines that are still in pre-commercial stages of development), but will also face some of the same challenges that we have been working through on the East coast (such as constrained transmission corridors, undeveloped onshore interconnection and transmission infrastructure and the need for Jones Act-qualified vessels).  Here are six key things to be aware of in the development of floating offshore wind in California.
Continue Reading Six Key Things to be Aware of in the Development of Floating Offshore Wind in California

As the demand for renewable energy in the United State increases, so does related project M&A activity.  For decades, the Sheppard Mullin team has been working on renewable energy project M&A and now we are helping our clients address several accelerating market trends for projects at all stages of the project life cycle. Here are six key items to be aware of today in US renewable energy M&A transactions.
Continue Reading Six key items to be aware of today in US Renewable Energy M&A Transactions

Through a Notice of Inquiry (“Notice”)[1] approved at its January 19, 2021 open meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) asked whether its Uniform System of Accounts (individually, an “Account,” and for more than one, “Accounts”) should be modified to better reflect the circumstances of non-hydro renewable assets that rely on heat, or motion, of the earth or sun, such as facilities that rely on solar, wind, biomass and geothermal sources.  The Notice describes how various Account categories currently do not readily correspond to renewable equipment. The Notice observes that certain types of renewable equipment (e.g., solar panels and photovoltaic (“PV”) inverters), and related maintenance expenditures (e.g., for solar panels, wind towers or their blades) do not fit well within existing descriptions of the Accounts.[2]
Continue Reading FERC Considers Whether to Modify Accounting System for Renewables

As Congress was completing final negotiations of the stimulus package dealing with the public health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, several key energy provisions made their way into the 5593-page omnibus spending bill passed by the House and Senate on December 21, 2020, particularly much needed extensions of several renewable energy and energy efficiency tax incentives. 
Continue Reading Congress Extends Renewable Energy Tax Credits in 2021 Omnibus Spending Bill

Momentum is growing quickly towards widespread construction of US offshore wind-powered electrical generation facilities. Several States along the northern part of the Atlantic coast have projects actively under development and RFPs for more projects to come.  Recent regulatory guidance has been issued clarifying Jones Act implementation. Here are six key trends and developments for market participants to be aware of.
Continue Reading Six Key Items to be Aware of Today in U.S. Offshore Wind (“OSW”)

A September 17, 2020 Final Rule adopted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Commission”) removes barriers to the participation of distributed energy resource aggregators in Regional Transmission Organization (“RTO”) and Independent System Operator (“ISO”) markets.[1]  The Commission’s modified regulations[2] require each RTO/ISO to revise its tariff to ensure that its market rules facilitate the participation of distributed energy resource aggregators.  Order No. 2222 is a positive development for distributed energy resources that would like to participate in wholesale electric markets but are unable to do so, and should encourage greater renewable energy resource development in the coming years.  However, the scope and implementation of each RTO’s/ISO’s participation model remains to be seen: distributed energy resources will need to keep an eye on RTOs’/ISOs’ proposed tariff revisions.  Moreover, maximizing the opportunity for distributed energy resources to contribute to markets will be affected by whether the Commission continues to reform Commission-jurisdictional markets to broaden participation of emerging technologies as it did in Order No. 2222, or adopt measures that bolster the viability of fossil and nuclear resources at the expense of emerging technologies as it has done in other proceedings.
Continue Reading Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Gives Distributed Energy Resource Aggregators a Boost; Implementation Will Present Challenges

The changes brought about by evolutions in renewable energy technologies, and in some cases aggravated by the impacts of COVID-19, are likely to up-end traditional relationships between different forms of energy and the customers that use them. These changes are significantly impacting not just competitors, but their contract counter-parties, the risks they face, their credit-worthiness and their customers.
Continue Reading How will Energy Market Participants Protect Themselves from Ongoing Shifts in the Sources of Energy?