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Weekly REsource December 21, 2017

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On of Monday this week, the White House released a new National Security Strategy, a statutorily mandated document that outlines for the American public, U.S. allies and partners, as well as the federal agencies, what the nation's major security concerns are, and how President Trump plans to deal with them. Among the strategy's targeted aspirations is to ensure the United States "will remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases, while expanding our economy." That passage is the only place in the 60-page document that mentions greenhouse gases. Incredibly, this administration's national security strategy is devoid of any mention of climate change, despite clear, science-based evidence of the damage resulting today from rising global temperatures and ocean levels, as well as additional risks anticipated to result from climate change over the decades ahead. This nonsensical omission ignores real climate-related threats to national security, including disruptions in food production, the spread of disease, the interruption of commerce, forced migration and territorial conflict.

News of Note  


Tax Bill Leaves Renewable Energy Groups Relieved


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act adopted by Congress this week may have its critics, but do not count the major renewable energy trade groups among them.,


Both the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) expressed their gratitude that the final tax reform measure passed on a strictly partisan vote eased off of restrictions and cutbacks on the tax credits currently enjoyed by the two sectors.


The bill "will allow the continued growth of American wind energy, and the investment, jobs and other economic benefits it brings to rural communities," AWEA said in a statement released early in the week. "The bill…preserves the orderly phase-out through 2019 of wind energy tax credits, ensuring stability for American factories that build wind turbines, and investors who back new wind farms.


SEIA said the tax bill represents "a great victory for the solar industry and its 260,000 American workers."


The version of the bill that passed out of the House last month would have reneged on a commitment Congress made to the wind and solar energy sectors two years ago when it agreed to extend, though phase out, a production tax credit (PTC) and an investment tax credit (ITC) available for eligible projects.


The House bill would have severely cut the PTC available to wind projects and shorten the terms of qualification, essentially putting a retroactive tax bite on projects already underway or in the planning stage. It would also have ended by 2027 a 10-percent investment tax credit (ITC) for utility-scale and commercial solar projects, which lawmakers had agreed in 2015 would be permanent.


House and Senate conferees late last week, however, released a version that removed the threats in the House bill to the production and investment tax credits.


"We are grateful to our champions in Congress for their work to craft a pro-business tax reform bill that will continue the success story of American wind power," said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan, "The bill respects the 2015 bipartisan phase-out, preserving through 2019 the [PTC and ITC], which the wind industry uses to access capital and invest in U.S. infrastructure.


AWEA cited a Navigant Consulting analysis showing the with that certainty of the phase-out, the credits are expected to generate $85 billion in economic activity and create nearly 50,000 new wind jobs by 2020.


SEIA CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said her group also "appreciates the hard work of our solar champions in Congress to ensure that the tax reform bill maintains the ITC in its current form. In particular, the final bill preserves the current ramp down of the ITC through the end of 2021, maintains the 10 percent ITC for commercial developers beyond 2021, and allows the Treasury Department to issue guidance on commence construction eligibility criteria."


The final bill also scales back the impact of the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) on renewable energy projects. The provisions aim to target "earnings strippings," the process by which large companies with overseas operations reduce their tax bills through cross-border payments that they can then deduct from their taxes in the United States. The BEAT program is designed to circumvent that stripping with a minimum tax of 10 percent of taxable income, then up to 12.5 percent by 2026.


But investors, developers, manufacturers and corporate energy consumers in the U.S. renewable energy sector – along with advocacy groups like 25x'25 – said the BEAT provisions would undermine their ability to use production and investment tax credits, which only have value if they can be monetized. Major financial institutions have indicated that a BEAT program would prevent them from participating in tax equity financing, the principle mechanism for monetizing credits. For multi-national companies covered under the BEAT provisions, the renewable tax credits would be subject to what is, essentially, a 100-percent tax.


The final version does not fully exempt renewable energy projects from BEAT provisions, instead allowing PTCs and ITCs to be used to offset up to 80 percent of the BEAT tax.


AWEA's Kiernan said his group recognized "improvements" made to the BEAT provisions by conferees that he said will "enable continued investment."


SEIA's Hopper was a little more guarded, noting that while "the conference report changed the new [BEAT provision] to allow the [ITC] to be used by solar investors," but also citing the provision's "complexities."


"We look forward to working with our congressional allies to modify the provision to allow unused tax credits to be used in future tax years," the SEIA executive said.


However, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) expressed concerns over the BEAT provisions, which they said were expanded in their application in the final tax bill.


"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 [BEAT provisions] on renewable energy finance," ACORE CEO and President Greg Whetstone said in a statement. "Even as we recognize that important progress was made in the effort to repair those provisions, we also note that the repair does not cover the full duration of the wind production tax credit (PTC) and the applicability of the new tax was expanded by conferees."


Whetstone said time will be needed assess the statutory language and determine how renewable energy investors will respond. He also noted that the 80 percent repair applies only through 2025, "and therefore devalues the later years of the 10-year wind PTC."


He said ACORE also remains uncertain how the marketplace will react to the fact that more multi-national firms may now be covered by the BEAT, and tax credits may not all be usable in any given year.


"We note that many tax equity investors are potentially subject to the BEAT tax and will only be able to determine if they are covered under the complex formula in the new law once they have completed their year-end tax calculations," Whetstone said. "The revised bill lowers the threshold that triggers application of the new tax to multi-national companies. Originally, four percent of a company's total allowable deductions could be associated with foreign activity. Now that figure is reduced to two percent for financial institutions and three percent for all others."


Biodiesel Advocates Seek Renewal and Extension of Tax Credits


Seven diverse groups representing segments of the biomass-based diesel value chain joined in a letter sent to Congressional leaders that called for a retroactive, multi-year extension of the biodiesel tax incentive before the end of the year.


The letter from producers, blenders, distributers, marketers and consumers of biodiesel, renewable diesel and renewable aviation fuels says they all "share the view that extending the biodiesel tax incentive is consistent with sound tax, energy and economic policy. A seamless, multi-year extension of this worthwhile tax incentive will help create jobs, reduce fuels costs, diversify the nation's energy supply and bolster domestic energy production.".


The $1-per-gallon blenders tax credit expired at the end of last year.


Signing on to the letter was the National Biodiesel Board, the Advanced Biofuels Association, the National Association of Truckstop Operators (NATSO), the American Trucking Association, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America and the Petroleum Marketers Association of America.


"The biodiesel industry is interested in consistency and durability as it relates to the biodiesel tax credit, which we hope to see reinstated this year. This letter shows how important that credit is to a broad range of industries," said Doug Whitehead, chief operating officer at the National Biodiesel Board. "Tens of thousands of U.S. jobs in manufacturing, agriculture, trucking and other industries are at risk. The clock is ticking, and we hope that Congress acts quickly to reinstate the biodiesel tax credit."


"It is not every day that these groups all join the same letter, and that should tell policymakers something," said NATSO Vice President of Government Affairs David Fialkov. "NATSO has spent the last year telling lawmakers that extending the biodiesel blenders' tax credit is good for consumers, fuel retailers and biodiesel producers, and the fact that the major trade associations representing all of these segments of the supply chain have signed this letter verifies that. We all collectively urge Congress to extend the biodiesel tax incentive."


In addition to the blenders tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel, others that expired at the end of 2016 were a $1.01 tax credit for next-generation, cellulosic ethanol; a 30-percent ITC for ethanol blender pumps and other alternative fueling infrastructure. An agri-biodiesel producer credit of 10 cents per gallon also expired at the end of 2016.


Some lawmakers have said a tax credit extenders bill is coming, but now say it probably won't come until January.


That measure could also include long-expired investment tax credits for distributed wind projects, combined heat and power systems, geothermal energy and fuel cells. The energy technologies were omitted from the tax credit legislation adopted in December, 2015. Lawmakers said at the time they were inadvertently left out due to a drafting error and promised to bring their renewal back in 2016, but nothing has yet transpired.


Biofuel Groups Counter Cruz Proposal to Limit RINs to 10 Cents Each


Some 90 biofuel trade and advocacy groups have joined in a letter to President Trump offering what they say are solutions to Renewable Identification Number (RIN) cost concerns that do no harm to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).


The letter comes shortly after longtime RFS critic, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), sent a proposal to the White House calling for a 10-cent cap on the cost of an RIN. The biofuel-blending credits, which are generated by the production or import of a biofuel and certify compliance by blenders with the RFS, were trading at 71 cents for corn-based ethanol late Friday after opening the say at 74.5 cents. Those prices are significantly lower than a $1.09 high for this year reached in late October.


Cruz and other oil-state lawmakers say that volatile RIN prices pose a financial hardship on refiners who must go to the market to buy them to comply with the RFS.


The dispute resulted in a meeting at the White House earlier this month, when Trump called on the two sides to resolve the issue. Cruz has placed a hold on the nomination of Iowa Agriculture Commissioner Bill Northey to an under secretary position at USDA pending a resolution to his RFS issues.


Biofuel groups, who argue that RINs drive the biofuel-blending requirements under the RFS, say RIN costs are not an issue, contending that merchant refiners can recoup the costs of the RINs through the price received for their products.


"There are ways to address RIN values for refiners without undercutting the RFS and rural America," the groups write. "We have been working on many of them for years, and we would welcome the opportunity to move these ideas forward."


Specifically, the biofuel sector has proposed curing inequity in the U.S. tax code between biofuels and oil, improving transparency in RIN trading markets to prevent market manipulation, and securing regulatory parity for Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) between ethanol-blended fuels and standard gasoline fuels.


Notably, the letter to the White House highlights what the groups say are inconsistencies in refiners' arguments about RIN costs hurting them.


"[R]efiners are not required to buy RINs under the RFS," the letter states. "If a refiner chooses instead to buy a RIN credit, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled last month that 'refiners are generally able to recover the cost of RINs in the prices they receive for their refined products, and therefore, high RIN prices do not cause significant harm to refiners.'"


In fact, the biofuel groups say, recent quarterly earnings statements serve as evidence that independent refiners are doing quite well.


The groups cite Trump's comments that the RFS has reenergized rural America. They note that 300 biorefineries operating across the country today support hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, reduce foreign oil dependence and keep fuel prices down. The RFS is necessary because fuel markets are not free markets.


In the letter, the group tells the president: "The RFS is working, and we very much appreciate your unwavering support of the program."


Meanwhile, media reports out of Washington indicate Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, is reaching out to Midwest corn state lawmakers seeking a legislative reform of the RFS. Those reportedly contacted by Cornyn include top RFS supporters, Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, who both represent Iowa, the leading state in the production of corn, the principal ethanol feedstock. No details of Cornyn's proposal have been released, and industry observers note that previous attempts to tweak the RFS have been soundly rejected by lawmakers who support the biofuel sector.


With Good Rules, Gas, Renewables Can Replace Coal, Nuclear: NERC


Just as Energy Secretary Rick Perry is citing energy security interests in pressing federal regulators to adopt a "cost-recovery'' plan aimed at shoring up failing coal and nuclear plants at the expense of ratepayers, the regulatory authority charged with assuring grid reliability says natural gas and renewable energy can adequately replace coal and nuclear with properly written rules.


All of the grid reliability attributes that nuclear and coal provide "could be replaced by natural gas and wind and solar," John Moura, director of reliability assessment and system analysis for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) told reporters late last week following an assessment released by the regulatory authority. "The key is to write the rules."


Moura did not specifically address Perry's call on the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue new to consider issuing new rules to ensure that power generating facilities with a 90-day fuel supply – including nuclear and coal – be compensated for the reliability they add to the grid, in addition to the power they supply – an order that would essentially call on consumers to subsidize money-losing coal and nuclear facilities through higher rates.


Perry says his proposal is a matter of national security, claiming he grid is losing its reliability because of the rapid closure of aging and unprofitable coal and nuclear plants. Last week, Perry begrudgingly granted FERC a 30-day extension – until Jan. 10 – to consider the proposal. The commission could adopt it, reject it or offer an alternative.


A DOE study requested by Perry earlier this year found that the ongoing decline in the so-called "baseload" energy sources was attributable primarily to less expensive natural gas, flatlining energy demand, significant increases in net generation capacity since 2002, and the dramatic drop in the price of installing renewables like wind and solar, which has led to wider implementation of wind turbines and solar panels across the country.


The 10-year forecast from NERC, which is a not-for-profit international regulatory authority whose mission is to assure the reliability and security of the bulk power system in North America, including Canada and New Mexico, reinforces the findings of the DOE study, finding that natural gas and renewables can cover the grid's reliability needs as coal and nuclear plants close.


NERC points out that rotating generators in coal and nuclear plants act as shock absorbers when tightly controlled grid stability measures go wrong. Gas generators can do the same, but only if pipelines deliver their fuel securely. For wind and solar units to handle such disruptions, they must be outfitted with electronics that enables them to handle the uptick.


NERC says the policies that can ensure those reliability measures are currently inadequate, adding that more transmission connections are needed to move wind energy from when it's concentrated, preventing over-generation when demand is down.


Moura said that as long as those risks are taken into account, "any system can be reliable." He added that while frequency response currently faces no issues, NERC does see it on the horizon.


"As we see the resource mix change, we are really making a call to action to industry and regulators to increase the robustness of planning approaches" to equip gas and renewable generation to fulfill reliability missions.


The FERC assessment says that ensuring adequate levels of essential reliability services and fuel assurance are key to enabling a rapidly changing resource mix, meeting renewable policy goals and maintaining a highly reliable and resilient bulk power system.


The assessment's key findings include:

  • NERC-wide growth in electricity demand is at its lowest rate on record.
  • Recently announced retirements of coal generation in Texas and a canceled nuclear expansion in SERC result in reserve margins that drop below reference margin levels beginning in 2018 and 2020 respectively.
  • Other reserve margin across North America are adequate through 2022.
  • Conventional generation retirements have outpaced conventional generation additions with continued additions of wind and solar.
  • Retirement plans have been announced for 14 nuclear units, totaling 10.5 GW.
  • Natural-gas-fired capacity has increased to 442 GW from 280 GW in 2009 with an additional 44.6 GW planned during the next decade.
  • Wind generation currently accounts for more than 10 percent of total installed capacity in six areas with 14.8 GW of NERC-wide additions projected during the next decade.
  • A total of 37 GW of solar additions are projected by 2022. Of these, 20 GW are distributed, raising visibility concerns for system planners.
  • Operating procedures that recognize potential inertia constraints were recently established in ERCOT and Québec.
  • With continued rapid growth of distributed solar, CAISO's three-hour ramping needs have reached 13 GW, exceeding earlier projections and reinforcing the need to access more flexible resources.


Among the assessment's recommendations are that NERC examine the adequacy of its requirements to address potential gaps in reliability. Other recommendations in the assessment include:

  • All new resources should have the capability to support voltage and frequency.
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should support new market rules that support the provision of essential reliability services.
  • FERC should consider the reliability attributes of all generation to ensure that the generation resource mix continues to evolve in a manner that ensures the reliability and resilience of the bulk power system.
  • When evaluating infrastructure requirements, policy makers should consider NERC and industry studies related to the potential bulk power system impacts of natural gas disruptions.
  • Transmission planners and operators should identify and report on expected reliability concerns related to interruptible natural gas transportation.


'NERC will work with the industry on a comprehensive review of Reliability Standards to ensure compatibility with the changing resource mix and adequate levels of essential reliability services, including frequency response and increased system flexibility,' said Thomas Coleman, director of Reliability Assessment.


NERC assessments provide a high-level view of resource adequacy and identify long-term emerging issues and trends that will influence future bulk power system planning, development and system analysis. NERC assessments also provide risk-informed recommendations and support a learning environment for industry and policy makers to pursue improved reliability performance.


Pruitt Seeks Comment on EPA Proposal to Replace Clean Power Plan


EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt this week kicked off a 60-day public comment period on what the agency say will ultimately be the replacement of the Obama administrations' Clean Power Plan (CPP).


Pruitt's plan will likely be more significantly more narrow than the CPP and is not expected to generate the renewable energy development anticipated from the Obama-era plan.


The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) comes as no real surprise, given Pruitt's announcement in October that the Trump administration would shut down the CPP, former President Barack Obama's principle policy mechanism to meet U.S. obligations under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).


As a presidential candidate last year, Trump repeatedly vowed to end the CPP, which has been hung up in court for nearly two years after 27 states, coal and mining interests sued the Obama administration, citing what they charged was federal regulatory overreach. Seventeen states, clean energy and environmental groups joined EPA at the time to defend the CPP.


With the change in administration, Trump has taken aim at virtually every vestige of federal government's efforts to address climate change, going so far as to removing references to it in agency documents, curbing discussion of it by government scientists, and deleting it as a threat in the latest National Security Strategy, which was issued this week.


The litigation over the CPP remains in virtual limbo in the District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.


The fact that Pruitt says he will replace the CPP indicates the Trump administration will not challenge a carbon endangerment finding reached by EPA under the Clean Air Act in 2009. Upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, the finding has since served as the legal foundation for the agency's regulatory authority over GHGs.


Pruitt is now expected to retain a narrower version of the CPP, focusing on upgrades that can be made specifically within coal-fueled power plants and dropping broader strategies to reduce GHGs.


As drawn up by EPA under the Obama administration, the CPP would have called on states to develop their own schemes for reducing coal-plant emissions, using both "inside-the-fence" efforts aimed at improving a plant's efficiency, and "outside-the-fence" measures such as emissions trading, consumer energy efficiency programs and the increased use of fuels with lower emissions than coal like natural gas and renewable energy.


Critics of the CPP cited the so-called fenceline provisions as overreach in their challenges to the plan and in the subsequent lawsuit. Pruitt, who previously served as the Oklahoma attorney general and was among those plaintiffs, also joined critics who challenged the CPP rule as it was being formulated in 2014, when he drafted his own "inside the fence" alternative to counter the EPA plan.


The ANPR calls for public comments on "inside the fence" remedies such as improve heat rate efficiencies at generators and carbon capture and storage.


The administration is reportedly hoping a replacement plan will also help in its defense against lawsuits that are expected to come from states, and clean energy and environmental groups that support the CPP.


Ethanol Groups Mark 10th Anniversary of 'RFS2'


The nation's leading ethanol groups this week marked the 10th anniversary of the 2007 reauthorization and strengthening of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).


Ten years ago, Dec. 19, President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act, which passed Congress by a wide, bipartisan margin.


In the decade since passage of what became known as RFS2 – the program was a major upgrade in scope and impact of an RFS adopted just two years earlier – significant progress has been made towards greater energy security, cleaner air and boosting local economies, according to a new analysis by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), "The RFS2: Then and Now."


The RFS requires oil companies to blend increasing volumes of renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel, culminating with 36 billion gallons in 2022.


"A decade after the RFS2 was adopted, tremendous progress has been made toward achieving the objectives of this landmark policy," according to the analysis, which compares key data points from 2007 to 2017.


Among the highlights:

  • The number of operational U.S. ethanol plants has nearly doubled from 110 in 2007 to 211 in 2017, a 92-percent increase, while U.S. ethanol production has grown 143 percent from 6.5 billion gallons in 2007 to 15.8 billion gallons in 2017
  • S. ethanol industry jobs grew 42 percent from 238,541 in 2007 to 339,176, with the value of industry output increasing 74 percent from $17.8 billion in 2007 to $31 billion in 2017
  • The production of advanced and cellulosic biofuel increased 469 percent from 490 million gallons in 2007 to 2.79 billion gallons in 2017
  • S. corn production grew 12 percent from 13 billion bushels in 2007 to 14.6 billion bushels in 2017, while corn acres planted fell 3 percent from 93.5 million acres in 2007 to 90.4 million acres in 2017 and average corn yields increased 16 percent from 150.7 bushels per acre in 2007 to 175.4 bushels per acre in 2017
  • The number of retail stations offering flex fuels like E85 increased 238 percent from 1,208 in 2007 to 4,077 in 2017, while the number of flex fuel vehicles on the road grew from 6.7 million in 2007 to 24.5 million in 2017, a 266-percent increase
  • The greenhouse gas emissions avoided from using ethanol has increased 291 percent from 12.7 million tons carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) in 2007 to 49.6 million tons CO2e in 2017


Meanwhile, the ethanol producers trade group says the analysis shows the doomsday outcomes threatened by RFS opponents have simply not materialized, citing:

  • S. cropland area fell 7 percent from 402 million acres in 2007 to 376 million acres in 2017, while U.S. grassland area has increased 5 percent from 1,296 thousand square miles to 1,359 thousand square miles.
  • The deforestation rate in the Amazon fell 43 percent from 4,498 square miles in 2007 to 2,558 square miles in 2017
  • The greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural soil management, urea fertilization, and liming fell 7 percent, from 278.7 million metric tons CO2e in 2007 to 260.1 million metric tons CO2e in 2017
  • Overall food inflation was 4 percent in 2007, but 1 percent in 2017
  • Prices for red meat, poultry, fish, cereals and bakery items, and dairy were unchanged in 2017 from the previous year, as compared to a 3.8 percent increase in 2007
  • World grain supply for coarse grains, wheat and rice increased 31 percent to 3.23 billion metric tons in 2017, as compared to 2.46 billion metric tons in 2007.


"By any measure, RFS2 has been a huge success, bringing about greater consumer choice while helping to make the air cleaner, stimulate economic activity and enhance energy security," said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. "As this analysis shows, consumers have greatly benefitted from this vital program. These benefits have rippled throughout our economy and we look forward to even greater success of the RFS for years to come."


In recognition of the RFS2 anniversary, Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, an ethanol manufacturers trade group, said that back in 2007, "Congress altered the trajectory of U.S. energy policy and sent our country in a new direction, one focused on regaining our energy security but also on encouraging the further development of our renewable fuel resources.


"It's easy to forget what a watershed moment that was," she continued. "When we look at America's energy landscape today, the impact of this visionary, audacious effort to inject change into what had been a monopolistic system is evident."


Skor said the "vital and increasing role of biofuels in America's fuel supply are yielding real-world results that touch people's lives every day: Our air is cleaner. Our reliance on foreign oil is reduced. Farmers in this country's heartland are hard at work ensuring that we have the resources to produce more biofuel that powers this country forward."


The Growth Energy CEO also cited the homegrown companies that founded America's biofuel industry "have also destroyed the myths designed to hold back innovation and big-thinking. Since the RFS was enacted, we've completely torn down the so-called 10 percent blend wall and shown that high biofuel blends improve engine performance and our environment.


"In fact, Americans have driven over 2 billion worry-free miles on E15 alone," she said, noting that according to the USDA, ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent compared to conventional gasoline.


"But we aren't about to stop and rest on our laurels," Skor said. "The men and women of America's biofuel industry are passionate about what they do and are more committed than ever to ensuring that our nation's fuel supply becomes cleaner and greener. Breakthroughs in advanced cellulosic technology have us poised to once again change the game, improve efficiencies and innovate the earth-friendly biofuels production process once again."


Skor acknowledged the support of ethanol among key members of Congress and the Trump administration, noting the industry is "ready to meet the future," and contending that low-cost, low-carbon renewable fuels will continue to move America forward."


Elsewhere, Brian Jennings, the CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), a farmers, distributors and retailers advocacy group, said the RFS "has spurred revolutionary changes across entire sectors of the economy; substantially lower fuel prices and more fuel choices for consumers at the pump, dramatically greater energy security for the U.S., profitable value-added markets for farmers, high-wage jobs, and other economic benefits in rural communities."


He said Congress enacted the RFS "to disrupt oil's status-quo grip on the marketplace and that's precisely why oil companies continue to fight for repeal of the RFS."


Jennings also said the standard has been catalyst for technology innovation in the sector, resulting in less energy and water to produce ethanol, a smaller carbon footprint and a more efficient industry.


"In 10 years, the biofuels industry will be stronger and more important to the overall economic success of America than it is today," the ACE executive said. "Plants will produce a greater variety of products and coproducts as diversity and innovation will continue to drive efficiencies.


Jennings also gave a nod to the ethanol industry's efforts to show the value of a high-octane, low-carbon fuel using mid-level ranges of ethanol blends, such as E25 and E30.


"I have every confidence that in 10 years from now our market share will grow from 10 percent of gasoline demand today to between 20 and 30 percent of the market, based on vehicle emission standards and demand for low-carbon fuel as the U.S. comes to grips with the fact that we need to do more to reduce CO2 emissions from the transportation sector," he said. "The lowest-cost way to reduce CO2 from vehicles is through low-carbon, high-octane fuels like ethanol."


NARUC Pushes for PURPA Reform in Letter to FERC


The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners has issued a letter to the members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission urging action to reform the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (known as PURPA) and outlining methods to achieve the much-needed changes.


With dramatic changes to the energy industry since PURPA was first enacted, the issues surrounding PURPA's implementing regulations are important and should remain among FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre's chief priorities., NARUC says.


Responding to utility complaints that they are required to purchase unnecessary power after a slew of smaller renewable projects are proposed, a number of states have been making changes to how the federal law is applied.


NARUC describes four significant changes since the original PURPA enactment, which provide important context for the letter's urgency:

  • The creation of wholesale markets
  • The widespread adoption of qualifying facilities technologies as sources of power
  • The open-access regulation of the transmission system
  • The use of competitive methods to select projects throughout the states


The NARUC letter says PURPA's administrative regulations should be aligned to the historical developments instead of obstructing them.


"We appreciate the challenges for FERC to address the many issues that have been stalled over the past year. However, PURPA is an issue that deserves immediate attention and action," said NARUC President John Betkoski. "Our state members have a deep interest in ensuring that PURPA is reformed in a manner that reflects our needs today. We need renewables, but we need to procure them in a better way."


"FERC already has the statutory authority to enact comprehensive reforms of PURPA's implementing regulations, and it would be an enormous missed opportunity if FERC enacted only small changes to them," said Travis Kavulla, past president of NARUC and vice-chairman of the Montana Public Service Commission. "There are ways forward on this problem that encourage both competition and the development of renewable technologies, while protecting consumers."


NARUC's letter outlines three ways to reform PURPA, structured around the following propositions:

  • FERC should adopt regulations that move away from the use of administratively determined avoided costs, and encourage the use of competitive solicitations for PURPA compliance and project selection.
  • Lower or eliminate the 20 MW threshold for the rebuttable presumption that qualifying facilities with a capacity at or below that size do not have nondiscriminatory access to the market, which would increase competition and reduce transaction costs to state commissions.
  • Address the disaggregation problem where qualifying facilities have gamed state and federal regulation by making changes to the "one-mile rule" and other related reforms.


NARUC officials say they will remain engaged in the issue and will work with FERC to achieve the reforms.




Editor's Note: We here at 25x'25 welcome companies and organizations with a major stake in the continued growth and development of renewable energy across America. We invite those interests to increase visibility and demonstrate a commitment to a clean and economically vibrant energy future by taking advantage of opportunities to sponsor The 25x'25 Weekly REsource, a highly acclaimed newsletter distributed to key state and federal policy makers, their staff and a wide range of stakeholder organizations. For sponsorship information, click HERE.

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Upcoming Events


Roger Farrer Energy Conference in OK Set for Jan. 10


Engaging speakers and all the latest news from around Oklahoma concerning renewable energy, energy efficiency and other complimentary technologies will be on hand at the 3rd annual Roger Farrer Energy Conference – "Back to the Future III" – in Edmond on Wednesday, Jan, 10.


Presented by the Oklahoma Association of Energy Engineers (AEEOK) and the Oklahoma Renewable Energy Council (OREC), the conference, "Back to the Future III," will be held at 100 North University Drive, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.


The joint AEEOK and OREC conference will present trends and innovations in renewables and energy and beneficial electrification.


Breakout sessions and topics for discussion include:

  • Status update on renewable energy in Oklahoma
  • On-road and off-road EV the economic and environmental impact
  • Smart Building Technologies
  • The integration of DER on the grid


Attendance tickets are $40; $35 for government and nonprofit representatives; and $20 for students.


To register, click HERE.


Booth sponsorships, which include two registrations each, are available for $200 each. Morning sponsorships, which also include two registrations, are $250.


Platinum Presenting Sponsorships, which include four registrations, a center booth and recognition on all program materials, are $1,000. Gold Co-Presenting Sponsorships, which include four registrations, a booth, and a logo on program materials, are $500.


For more sponsorship details, click HERE.


Energy Independence Summit 2018 Set for Feb. 11-14


Energy Independence Summit 2018, the nation's premier clean transportation policy summit, is set for Feb. 11-14 in Washington, D.C.



The event will be staged by Transportation Energy Partners (TEP) is a national non-profit organization that brings Clean Cities coalition leaders together with the clean transportation industry to advance policies that will reduce American dependence on petroleum-based fuels.






TEP officials say the summit provides a unique opportunity for Clean Cities Coalitions and leaders in the clean transportation industry to network and build partnerships with each other, and with key congressional and Trump administration policymakers in Washington.


Attendees will have the opportunity to:

  • Meet with leaders of the new administration and key congressional leaders.
  • Learn the latest on how you can benefit from investments from the Volkswagen settlement.
  • Network with the nation's Clean Cities Coalitions and top industry leaders.
  • Participate in roundtable discussions with DOE, EPA, USDA, Department of Transportation and Department of Defense.
  • Learn about new technologies and market developments that are driving the alternative fuels industry forward.
  • Participate in Capitol Hill Day meetings and educate members of Congress about successful projects achieved in partnership with government and industry.
  • Attend the Capitol Hill Day reception hosted by UPS.
  • Attend the Salute to Clean Cities reception.


The summit will take place at the Renaissance Dupont Circle Hotel in downtown Washington.


For more information and registration, click HERE.


Other events of interest to 25x'25 partners and other renewable energy stakeholders can be found by clicking here.