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Key Takeaways: Decoding the Future Value of Behind-the-Meter Load for Cryptocurrency and Computing: A Conversation with Compute North Executives

On May 5, McDermott Will & Emery partners Ed Zaelke and Chris Gladbach hosted P.J. Lee, Dave Perrill and Jeff Jackson of Compute North to discuss the relationship between the rapidly expanding computing and cryptocurrency industries and the power sector.

Below are the key takeaways from the webinar:

  1. Compute North’s business model focuses on the power of distributed computing in cryptocurrency mining and large-scale data processing for uses with non-essential, flexible demand. By responding to real-time demand response signals and shutting down in less than 10 seconds, these distributed computing facilities can also participate in the demand response market and act as ancillary service resources.
  2. Modular computing facilities (similar to modular energy storage) allow distributed computing loads to be located nearer to generation, reducing congestion and curtailment risks and providing new customers for merchant facilities and other stranded power producing assets.
  3. Compute North’s distributed computing facilities are targeted at facilities as low as 20 MW in size, but are considering facilities of up to a full buildout of 1 GW.
  4. Although Compute North’s distributed computing currently requires higher use factors (and likely imports from the grid or separate generation assets), one of its long-term goals is to match the generation of a particular power producing facility.
  5. Successful cryptocurrency mining and other flexible distributed computing needs require computing facilities to be the lowest marginal cost producer. By providing services at 1/15th the cost of hypercomputing technologies, new data processing work cases are likely further increasing the demand for and power of distributed computing.

To access past webinars in this series and to begin receiving Energy updates, including invitations to the webinar series, please click here.




US Senate Committee Introduces Clean Vehicle Charging Legislation

Earlier this week, a group of cross-party US senators introduced the Securing America’s Clean Fuels Infrastructure Act (the Act) to promote investments in clean vehicle infrastructure. The types of infrastructure supported by the legislation include electric vehicle charging stations and hydrogen refueling stations for fuel cell vehicles.

The Act would enlarge the benefits of the existing Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Investment Tax Credit (ITC) (found in Section 30C of the Internal Revenue Code), diminishing costs associated with clean vehicle infrastructure development. The legislation targets American automobile owners, as electric and clean energy vehicles supplant traditional gasoline power vehicles.

The new legislation encourages increased private investment by providing incentives to build the much-needed infrastructure to support the wide adoption of clean energy vehicles. According to its sponsors, the Act would accomplish three goals:

  1. Clearly state the 30C ITC can be applied to each item of refueling property (i.e., each charger) rather than per location.
  2. Increase the 30C ITC cap for business investments from $30,000 to $200,000 for each item of refueling property.
  3. Extend the 30C ITC tax credit for eight more years from the December 31, 2021, expiration date, which means the 30C ITC would apply to refueling property that is placed in service by December 31, 2029.

Nonprofit environmental groups, transportation associations, energy companies and major automakers all support the proposed cross-party bill. If passed, the bill will bring increased activity in the renewable energy market for developers, investors and lenders.




The Energy Market in 2021: From Crisis to Opportunity | Reenergizing after the Storm

The energy market has undergone significant change in the past 12 months, with even more on the horizon. Our webinar series explores how these changes have shaped—and will continue to impact—the energy industry, including discussions of what’s to come.

Our latest webinar featured FTI Consulting’s Chris LeWand, Global Power & Renewables Leader and RJ Arsenault, Managing Director in the Clean Energy Industry Practice.

Below are key takeaways from the webinar:

  1. Project valuations will be impacted in both the short- and medium-term, but how much they are impacted depends on which side of the table they are on. Larger sponsors with the balance sheet to handle this issue will likely play this out and address these issues via the existing waterfall. However, smaller sponsors without the balance sheet will have to soon deal with hedge providers, debt and tax equity, each of which now find themselves in new positions within the capital stack.
  2. The lack of utility Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are both at the front and back of this. The lack of PPAs in Texas resulted in many developers going out and securing these hedge products in the merchant market at a high price. While effective at the time, we now see the downside of that pervasive structure in extreme weather events. So, we may see a rethinking of the PPA market in Texas as a result of this event and new means of securing offtake going forward.
  3. As far as how the market in Texas will react, things are temporarily slowing down or hitting the pause button when it comes to development, debt and tax equity. There is now a lot going on in Texas in terms of litigation, resignations and political oversight in addition to standard course project development and financing. While due diligence has always been heavy for these types of transactions, it will now get even heavier. Projects will take longer and be a little more costly to transact upon. This is not insurmountable, as most debt and tax equity providers are always evolving in their diligence requirements, and this can be viewed as a natural progression in a way to find solutions.

To access past webinars in this series and to begin receiving Energy updates, including invitations to the webinar series, please click here.




Five Takeaways: The Energy Market in 2021 – From Crisis to Opportunity

The energy market has undergone significant change in the past 12 months, with even more on the horizon. Our webinar series explores how these changes have shaped—and will continue to impact—the energy industry, including discussions of what’s to come.

Our latest webinar featured Greg Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE).


Below are key takeaways from this week’s webinar:

  • The renewable energy industry continued to grow throughout the Trump administration; 2020 was a banner year with 28.5 GW of new wind and solar (the previous record, in 2016, was just below 23 GW).
  • The renewable industry is likely to receive its first legislative action as part of the infrastructure bill (likely through the budget reconciliation process); however, it will likely not occur until after impeachment proceedings and a COVID-19 relief bill have been completed.
  • It is not clear that a clean energy standard could be passed through the budget-oriented reconciliation process or that carbon pricing would have sufficient votes to even pass the reconciliation process, so the best current option may be to continue and expand tax incentives for renewable energy.
  • The Biden administration has committed to a “whole of government” approach to clean energy, which is expected to include an aggressive Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) policy once a third commissioner is appointed in June; sweeping executive orders (some of which we have already seen); aggressive federal procurement targets; streamlined permitting; and broader Department of Energy guidance in innovation.
  • A refundable tax credit at 85% of the current value is very much on the table, but it remains to be seen whether there are sufficient votes in the Senate for this to make it through the reconciliation process.

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Access past webinars in this series.




IRS Provides Relief for Offshore Wind and Federal Land Projects

New guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extends the Continuity Safe Harbor to 10 years for both offshore wind projects and projects on federal land. The relatively quick release of this guidance following enactment of the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC) last week suggests strong support for these projects by Congress, the US Department of the Treasury and IRS.

Access the article.




COVID-19 Stimulus Bill Includes Key Renewable Energy Tax Credits

The US stimulus bill passed into law yesterday includes several key extensions and additions to the tax credits available for renewable energy. The bill had been agreed to by Congress early last week and was signed into law by the president last night.

Access the full article here.




Five Takeaways: Utility Acquisition of Renewable Projects – A Discussion of the Legal and Tax Issues Regarding Utilities, Developers and Tax Equity

Increasingly, utilities are replacing older generation fleets with more cost-effective generation technologies. Renewables are cost-competitive alternatives in this effort for a number of reasons, including the current tax incentives. A utility’s acquisition of a renewable asset presents many issues not otherwise present in a non-utility acquisition, particularly if the utility intends to include its investment in rate base.

In our webinar, we discussed the legal and tax issues associated with renewable energy transactions based on our experience representing both utilities and developers.


Below are key takeaways from this week’s webinar:

  1. 2021 will bring an increase for the renewable energy industry, despite the effect COVID-19 has had on the market.
  2. Some issues to consider when creating a tax equity structure that involves a utility are: regulatory investment limitations, related party and normalization considerations.
  3. Utility build-transfer agreements should be executed well in advance of the notice to proceed. These agreements usually involve classic mergers & acquisitions (M&A) representations and warranties that are made in advance of the project beginning.
  4. Developers under a build-transfer agreement should consider ways to mitigate risk.
  5. Timeline is important. A utility will commonly use the interim period between entering into a build-transfer agreement and closing the transaction, to complete tax equity documents and make certain representations and warranties to the tax equity investor.

To begin receiving Energy updates, including invitations to the webinar series, please click here.

Access past webinars in this series.




Seeing Beyond the Wall of Capital

In the United States, despite the continued spread of COVID-19 and the uneven approach to reopening, where that is even occurring, deals in the renewable energy sector are happening.

In a recent article for Project Finance International, Chris Gladbach and Seth Doughty discussed the state of the US market for renewable power projects, including how investments (and investment styles) have changed, new technologies and more.

Access the article.

Republished with permission from Refinitiv Project Finance International.




Six Takeaways: Developing and Financing Offshore Wind – Challenges and Opportunities

McDermott hosted James McGinnis, managing director at PJ Solomon, and Salvo Vitale, country manager at US Wind, on September 17 for an interactive discussion on the US offshore wind market.

Below are key takeaways from this week’s webinar.

1. The challenges facing the US offshore wind industry are similar to challenges that are faced with any newly-emerging industry: keeping the large number of stakeholders satisfied and maintaining support from the general public, which will need a concurrence of private interests towards common goals. Political winds in particular are subject to change, and therefore should be carefully monitored.  Policy ultimately aligning with industry to carry the industry forward will be critical.

2. Managing timing expectations can be particularly important. As a new industry, logistics and development processes are continuing to develop and there may be unexpected issues that influence timing (including logistical, technical and policy issues) that in turn affect stakeholders in various ways. To the extent possible, the industry should be prepared for these unknown risks.

3. Availability of tax equity will be critical and there are open questions as to whether that capacity will be available to support the large amount of capital that will be needed. Oil Majors and Strategic players will of course be advantaged in the near-term given these challenges. In the medium term, additional pools of tax-advantaged capital will need to be identified to fill the gap (or policy solutions will need to be employed to address this issue).

4. As the industry matures certain players such as certain equipment suppliers or service providers will likely become more prominent and sometimes the only reliable resource for such product or service. However, there are players in the market that may not be known in the US but are participants in the global market. The industry should continue to seek out other suppliers or service providers that are outside its comfort zone.

5. The enormity of capital needed to support all of the offshore development cannot be over-emphasized. Significant opportunities are and will become available for private equity investors to participate in a prudent and meaningful way (and to obtain outsized returns).

6. While some uncertainties and risks still exist in the US offshore wind industry, recent developments indicate that there is interest in the market and capital that is available to be deployed. As more projects move forward and permitting and other obstacles get resolved, barriers to additional capital deployment will be lowered.

To begin receiving Energy updates, including invitations to the webinar series, please click here.

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Six Takeaways from Wind Turbine Vendor Update: A Conversation with GE Renewable Energy


McDermott hosted GE Renewable Energy North America Services Sales Leader Ben Stafford, Commercial Director of Onshore Wind for the North Region Rob Bienick and Commercial Director of Onshore Wind for the West Region Matt Lynch on July 30 for a discussion about COVID-19’s impact to turbine supply chain and construction, the effects of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) safe harbor extension, and how GE is preparing for 2021 and beyond.

Below are key takeaways from this week’s webinar.

1. COVID-19 continues to impact both supply chain and construction – requiring more communication with customers, subcontractors, and within GE, but products continue to be manufactured, delivered, installed, and maintained.

2. The large wind project pipeline in the United States (even prior to the PTC extension) shows that there remains great optimism for the wind industry, despite the current PTC phase-out schedule.

3. The repowering market for wind is growing, providing many benefits including renewed PTCs, increased energy yield, increased reliability, lowered maintenance cost, and optimization of existing site infrastructure over greenfield development.

4. The trend toward longer blades continues, but logistics remain the largest hurdle to wider deployment.

5. Service agreements are trending towards longer terms with greater flexibility to meet customer needs, including opportunities to align interests with revenue and risk sharing terms.

6. GE is available to support both new and repowering projects with available safe-harbor equipment.

To begin receiving Energy updates, including invitations to the webinar series, please click here.

Access past webinars in this series.




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