Power purchase agreements

By Marc T. Campopiano, Joshua T. Bledsoe, Douglas Porter, Danny AleshireJennifer Roy and Andrew Yancey

The end of the California State Legislature’s regular session for the year culminated in a frenzy of action, with Assembly members scrambling to pass dozens of bills before midnight on September 12, 2015. The California Legislature voted on a package of 12 bills addressing environmental and health concerns, such as off-shore drilling, divestment of investment funding from coal companies, water quality, energy efficiency in disadvantaged communities, and increased public transportation. This post analyzes three of the more significant and controversial bills proposed this year, including last minute changes to each during the final week of the session: SB 350; SB 32; and AB 1288.

SB 350 (De León): The Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015

The most far-reaching climate change goals of the climate bill package were enshrined in SB 350. The proposed bill, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León and Senator Mark Leno, originally called for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in cars and trucks, a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings, and for 50 percent of the state’s utility power to be derived from renewable energy, all by 2030; termed the “50-50-50” formula.

These standards paralleled Governor Jerry Brown’s climate change agenda for the year, which was first announced during his inaugural address in January. Last Wednesday, following a failure to garner the necessary votes amid resistance from moderate Democrats, state legislative leaders amended SB 350 to drop requirements for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use for cars and trucks. As modified, the bill passed on a 52-27 vote.

By Michael Carroll, Marc Campopiano and Max Friedman

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has released an August 2015 report projecting local reliability shortfalls in the Los Angeles basin planning area as early as 2021. The deficits may require new natural gas power generation to maintain grid reliability.

This finding is part of the Integrated Energy Policy Report, a collaborative effort with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Independent System Operator, and the California Air Resources Board.

The report recommends that the CPUC “[i]nclude in its 2016 [Long Term Procurement Plan (LTPP)] rulemaking an explicit focus on local capacity requirements. Further, the CPUC should not assume that such requirements in the intermediate period 5-8 years forward have been satisfied through decisions in the 2012 LTPP rulemaking and the procurement activities authorized by D.14-03-004.” This recommendation would represent a significant shift in the CPUC’s planning horizon because the 2016 LTPP is intended to evaluate the need for new power resources beginning in 2026, not as early as 2021. Now, it appears that new resources may be needed much faster than the CPUC had anticipated.

By Joshua T. Bledsoe and Douglas K. Porter

On June 10, 2015, the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) released a draft final proposal (the “Expanded Metering and Telemetry Options Phase 2, Distributed Energy Resource Provider”) that, if finalized, would represent an initial  step towards a regulatory structure that would result in distributed energy resources (“DERs”) competing in California wholesale energy markets.  DERs are resources that are physically connected to the distribution grid of an electric utility (e.g., rooftop solar, energy storage, plug-in electric vehicles, and demand response).  In order for DERs to sell into the CAISO wholesale markets, they would use the distribution grid of the electric utility to deliver power to or to take power from the transmission grid.  Currently, the vast majority of existing renewable resources sell their power to California’s electric utilities.  Those distributed resources are compensated by electric utilities for the electricity they generate at a rate far in excess of current CAISO market prices.  In addition, those resources do not have the right or the ability to sell power directly into the wholesale market.  Absent the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) adopting a substantially revised regulatory structure that sorts out the thorny jurisdictional, economic and technical issues (e.g., metering and compensation for resources located behind the retail meter), the immediate impact of CAISO’s proposal may be modest at best.

By Michael J. Gergen and Tyler Brown

On September 8, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (“Fifth Circuit”), in a 2-1 decision, reversed an opinion by the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas (“District Court”) and held that the Public Utility Commission of Texas (“PUCT”) acted within its discretion and properly implemented a federal regulation under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) in a manner that limits the ability of Qualifying Facilities (“QFs”) to enter into a long-term, fixed-price power purchase agreements, known as “PURPA Put Contracts,” with electric utility buyers to QFs that generate “firm power” as defined by the PUCT.  This decision calls into question the ability of intermittent generation resources, such as many wind generation resources, in Texas (and potentially in Louisiana and Mississippi, the two other states in the Fifth Circuit) to sell power under PURPA Put Contracts.   

By Marc Campopiano and Tim Henderson

On March 11, 2013, the California Energy Commission (CEC) released a proposed Seventh Edition of the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) Eligibility Guidebook (proposed Guidebook).  As we discussed in a previous blog entry, on March 28, 2012, the CEC suspended the RPS eligibility of power plants generating electricity using biomethane. 

In response to the passage of AB 2196, which created a pathway for using biomethane to generate RPS-eligible electricity, the proposed Guidebook would lift

By Joshua T. Bledsoe, Tim B. Henderson, and Jared W. Johnson

Seeking to quell uncertainty surrounding the definition of resource shuffling ahead of the first cap-and-trade auction on November 14, 2012, the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) passed a Resolution on October 18, 2012, requiring the Executive Officer to redefine resource shuffling and provide concrete examples.  CARB’s Resolution requires CARB Staff to issue proposed regulatory amendments by mid-2013 and release regulatory guidance consistent with the Resolution before the

By Joshua T. Bledsoe, Tim B. Henderson, and Jared W. Johnson

With the first auction in California’s cap and trade program fast-approaching on November 14, 2012, the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) recently suspended a much-discussed aspect of the program that requires first deliverers of electricity to attest that they have not engaged in “resource shuffling.”  Resource shuffling involves a seller of energy into California modifying its portfolio of sales so that lower or no-emission electricity is

By Michael Feeley and Aron Potash

A lawsuit which delayed and once threatened to dismantle California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) cap and trade scheme was largely resolved last week, removing one roadblock to California’s plan to be the first state to impose an economy-wide GHG trading program.  Under modified regulations adopted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on October 20, 2011, California will require certain emitters of GHGs to obtain allowances or offsets in amounts commensurate to their respective emissions