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Key Takeaways | Carbon Capture Gets a Long Runway for Development

Featured prominently in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) is one segment of the energy industry that could most benefit from incentivized development. On November 17, McDermott Partners Parker Lee and Philip Tingle were joined by Laura Gieseke, senior counsel at Western Midstream, and Spencer English, director at Piper Sandler, for a discussion on the current CCUS market and how potential benefits in the IRA might play out in future CCUS development projects.

Below are key takeaways from the discussion:

1. Progress in the CCUS market requires buy-in from the oil and gas industry. This has been the case thus far given the industry’s existing technologies and desire to reduce its carbon outputs. New incentives within the IRA, such as direct pay credits, are expected to spur further investment.

2. The three primary components of CCUS are physical capture, transportation of carbon by pipeline and sequestration systems. There has been more investment and research into physical capture and transportation as those projects deal with pre-existing structures within the oil and gas industry. While direct air capture is not as popular as other carbon capture measures, the industry is devoting time to study the feasibility of such projects.

3. The IRA allows for developers to treat amounts paid in excess of their tax liability for certain tax credits as a refundable payment and receive a cash refund from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Specifically, Section 45Q permits both tax-exempt and non-tax-exempt entities to take advantage of this incentive for carbon oxide sequestration credits. This “direct pay” allows CCUS developers to monetize tax credits without partnering with tax equity investors and will allow for increasing the scale of CCUS projects. This provision will remain in effect until 2033. The monetization mechanism for the direct pay credits still needs to be developed and put into practice.

4. There are important questions that the IRS needs to consider during its comment period that will shape the future of the CCUS market and financing for it. For example: How is carbon sequestration defined? If an entity avoids producing CO2, does that qualify as carbon sequestration? How do we verify sequestration? How is sequestration documented?

5. Tax equity investors have a good sense of potential risks for wind and solar projects, but there is a desire to diversify into different technologies. While direct pay will permit the oil and gas industry to proceed with CCUS projects without tax equity partners, the industry expects tax equity partners to join down the road to allow for maximum utilization of the available tax credits.

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




Key Takeaways | Hospitals and Renewable Energy: New Financial Incentives and Opportunities in the Inflation Reduction Act

During this webinar, Heather Cooper and Carl Fleming, partners in the McDermott’s energy & project finance group, teamed up with McDermott+Consulting’s Debra Curtis to break down the key opportunities and actionable steps that your in-house team stakeholders need to know about to take advantage of what the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) has to offer. Discussion topics included a highlight of important provisions in the IRA and the incentives they hold for hospitals, an update on how the Biden administration is approaching climate change and healthcare, how to track funding sources and apply for tax credits and deductions and more.

Below are key takeaways from the discussion:

1. Hospitals, Healthcare and Climate Change. Hospitals and the healthcare sector both have a role to play in climate change mitigation. The healthcare sector accounts for about 8.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and about 4.5% of emissions worldwide. These emissions are generated mostly from running energy-draining facilities 24/7. Hospitals have an opportunity to not only track and report emissions, but also to reduce them.

2. Hospitals and Healthcare Systems Now Face Climate Change Operational Risk. While there may have been a lack of oversight and accountability on hospitals and the healthcare sector in regard to climate change, there are now several forces pushing hospitals—and the healthcare system more broadly—to undertake efforts to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

3. Health Sector Climate Pledge. On June 30, 2022, US President Joe Biden announced the “Health Sector Climate Pledge.” As a result, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the White House, is mobilizing the healthcare sector to reduce emissions. Under the Pledge, 61 of the largest US hospital and health sector companies (which account for about 650 hospitals) committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. Additionally, in response to the Biden administration’s directive to federal agencies on climate change, the HHS has taken several other steps to address the issue. Internally, it has created small offices to examine climate change, health equity and environmental justice.

4. The IRA Is Historic. Perhaps the biggest incentive for hospitals to take action comes from the IRA, which President Biden signed into law back in August. The IRA is the largest climate change legislation ever enacted globally and provides for $369 billion in climate change programs and incentives with a 10-year timeframe (versus the prior one-to-three-year increments). It also greatly expands tax credits for US companies that adopt energy-saving renewable technologies and, for the first time, makes these credits available to nonprofits—a category that includes just over half of the nation’s hospitals.

5. The IRA Unlocks Opportunities for Hospitals. Under the IRA, hospitals now (1) have access to a new significant financial incentive for energy efficiency, (2) gain access to the previously restricted tax equity market via transferability [...]

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Key Takeaways | How the Inflation Reduction Act Impacts the Oil and Gas Industry + The Role of Natural Gas Moving Forward

The landmark Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) was a long-anticipated legislative package for the industry because it promotes investment in alternative forms of energy. During this webinar, Partners Denmon Sigler and Philip Tingle hosted David Herr, managing director of corporate finance at Kroll, and Chris Culver, director of natural gas supply and strategy at Valero, for an engaging discussion on how the IRA impacts the oil and gas and natural gas industries.

Below are key takeaways from the discussion:

1. A combination of the war in the Ukraine, issues with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline stemming from said war, widespread corporate commitments to net-zero emissions targets, and the passage of the IRA have created immense levels of volatility in the natural gas market and created a lack of clarity as to what the future for natural gas will look like.

2. An additional knock-on effect from the conflict in the Ukraine is that Europe has had to seek natural gas sources from outside of Russia, with a significant portion of that coming from the United States. An upshot of that trend is that natural gas has become much more of a global commodity and is priced like crude oil historically has been.

3. At its core, the IRA is a mechanism for transitioning away from fossil fuel-based energy production, however, there are features within it that apply to traditional energy sources. For example, renewable natural gas (RNG) has received a 10-year credit, credits for carbon sequestration at natural gas-fired facilities are covered under the IRA and nuclear energy is now entitled to a production tax credit.

4. For renewable fuel development, the 10-year horizon for tax credits granted by the IRA allows investors to participate in the full industry development cycle (pilot stage, development stage and maturity stage) to see overall production cost reductions that were evident in renewable energy development over the past decade, all under the umbrella of tax credits during that time horizon.

5. The current demand for RNG faces a multitude of production challenges as today’s prevailing prices for RNG are much higher than traditional natural gas. However, those high RNG prices are expected to drop over the medium term as RNG production benefits from tax credits under the IRA help boost overall supply.

6. There has been significant growth in the demand for greener motor fuels, which will drive up the overall market demand for green hydrogen because green hydrogen serves as a necessary feedstock for the production of green motor fuels.

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




Key Takeaways | In the Room Where It Happened

On August 25, McDermott Will & Emery kicked off its latest 10-part weekly webinar series focused on navigating the new energy landscape following the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (the Act)—the largest and most important climate action in US history.

During the first webinar, McDermott Partners Carl Fleming and Edward Zaelke hosted Greg Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), for a discussion on the conversations leading up to this historic legislation and its future impact on the renewable energy industry.

Below are key takeaways from the discussion:

1. The Act represents a major win for the renewable energy industry, particularly its extension of tax credits up to a 10-year (or potentially longer) period, allowing businesses in the energy sector to plan on stable tax platforms for longer than a couple of years—something that is truly unprecedented for the renewables industry. Other major highlights include the introduction of tax credits for energy storage and new technologies, such as hydrogen, programs to encourage domestic manufacturing and the monetization of tax credits. The McDermott Energy & Project Finance team has already seen a spike in standalone energy storage mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity and a heightened interest in financing structures.

2. Of further noteworthy importance is the Act’s introduction of the ability to transfer tax credits. Although the direct pay provisions of the Act were not as broad as hoped for by many, Greg believes that the transferability provisions will have a significant impact on the renewable energy market. In his view, the constraints on transferability are minimal and allow for the monetization of credits without partnership flips or sale-leasebacks, although there may still be a role for these types of transactions. According to Greg, the market will likely see a mix of tax equity structures and other kinds of financing as there is now more latitude as to how to monetize these credits. The Energy & Project Finance team is currently advising on a number of innovative structures to allow clients to capitalize on this new game changer for tax credits.

3. Another notable feature of the Act is the ability to stack credits related to domestic content, energy communities and wage and apprenticeship requirements. Although further regulations and guidance are needed in these areas, it is agreed amongst industry specialists that appropriately stacking these incentives could make renewable energy projects much more lucrative while creating beneficial societal impacts, such as building a domestic workforce and supply chain and transitioning away from fossil fuel-driven economies. The Energy & Project Finance team is working with various clients to narrow down such requirements and to help properly “stack” these credits.

4. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions was a true driving force behind the Act and is a meaningful step toward addressing climate issues. However, the devil will be in the details regarding how the [...]

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Key Takeaways | Commercial, Legal and Policy Responses to Commerce’s Anticircumvention Investigation

The US Department of Commerce (Commerce) recently initiated a circumvention investigation against solar cell and module imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. This decision has the potential to profoundly impact the companies that import or rely on imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells (CSPs) in the United States. To help companies navigate this investigation, McDermott’s Carl Fleming, Lynn Kamarck and Tyler Kimberly were joined by Brett White, vice president of regulatory affairs for Pine Gate Renewables, for a fireside chat that covered, among other things, the specific issues Commerce will investigate, how to assess the risk of this decision across developer portfolios and the opportunities presented for improving current renewables legislation.

Below are key takeaways from the discussion:

1. Commerce’s decision to initiate a circumvention investigation into whether CSPs imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand or Vietnam are circumventing antidumping and countervailing duty orders on CSPs from China has generated market uncertainty for companies that import or rely on imported CSPs.

2. Whether any assessment of duties or penalties that result from the investigation will have retroactive effect is currently unclear. Applicable regulations do not require Commerce to apply duties retroactively, providing an opportunity for “interested parties” to offer feedback to Commerce as to why retroactive application would be unfair. (In this context, domestically, importers of record, businesses and trade associations and industrial users are generally recognized as interested parties.)

3. Major legal and factual issues may sway Commerce’s ultimate determination, while certain factual discrepancies in Auxin Solar Inc.’s petition to Commerce may lead to a preliminary decision by Commerce. (The deadline for the preliminary decision is August 29, 2022, and it’s unlikely that Commerce will act before this deadline.) Additionally, certain “country of origin” legal analyses are implicated in any ultimate determination Commerce makes.

4. Auxin’s petition and Commerce’s investigation have given more attention to the issue of importing CSPs and to the Build Back Better Plan (BBB), so there is optimism that this may push US Congress to act more quickly on the adoption of certain tax credits, domestic content credits and other incentives under the BBB.

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




Key Takeaways | Legislative Update on Renewable Energy Tax Incentives

On November 17, McDermott Partners Philip Tingle and Heather Cooper were joined by Bill Parsons, COO of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), for a discussion on recent legislative activity regarding renewable energy tax incentives and how it will affect current tax credits as well as those in the center of the renewables space.

Below are key takeaways from the webinar:

1. Negotiations surrounding the Build Back Better Act and progress regarding the substance of the bill have been moving at a rapid pace. Despite some uncertainties, the hope is that something will be passed before year-end—and the tax credits component is likely to look very similar to the current proposal.

2. A shift in thinking has taken place in US Congress, specifically, the clean energy tax regime is now seen as a credible driver in achieving the Biden administration’s decarbonization and climate goals.

3. Industry participants are assessing whether the direct pay component of the Build Back Better Act will dramatically change the tax equity market. Several factors will determine how direct pay will affect said market, including the timing of payments, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scrutiny, availability of depreciation and tax basis step-ups, permissiveness of waivers, congressional oversight and the proposed minimum book tax.

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




Key Takeaways | Conventional Energy Companies Pivot to Renewables

How will traditional energy companies compete as the world transitions to renewable energy? In the latest webinar in our Energy Transition series, McDermott Will & Emery Partner Jack Langlois hosted Philip Tingle, global co-head of McDermott’s Energy and Project Finance Practice Group, and Michael Hanson, managing director of energy transition at Truist Securities, to answer exactly that. During the 30-minute discussion, they assessed the future for conventional energy companies, including key issues surrounding decarbonization and current tax credit frameworks.

Below are key takeaways from the webinar:

1. Timeline and Decision-Making. There is a broad divergence of views in how quickly the transition to renewable energy will happen, but changes in law and policy could accelerate that timeline. Conventional energy companies are taking small steps to get acclimated to new renewable opportunities because there are multiple factors they need to consider before deciding whether to enter into the renewable energy space: Strategic fit, materiality, profitability and risk. Many conventional energy companies that have successfully pivoted to renewable opportunities have done so by reutilizing their existing assets.

2. Carbon Capture. Carbon capture is often a strategic fit for oil and gas companies. However, companies, investors and banks are still struggling with the profitability of carbon capture because without government incentive, carbon capture is not profitable. The current incentive structures do not compel a sufficient amount of activity because they only compensate capture equipment owners, leaving out all the necessary downstream affiliates. Until this business model is corrected, banks especially will struggle with how to finance carbon capture.

3. Reconciliation Bill. Carbon capture incentives may be around for a while longer. In the reconciliation bill, there is a provision that would extend the Section 45Q carbon capture tax credit through the year 2032. However, the bill would also modify the tax credit to provide for wage and apprenticeship requirements. Companies will need to find ways to assure financing parties that they have met these additional requirements. If they can accomplish this, the extension period will allow greater opportunities for conventional energy companies to enter the space.

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




Key Takeaways | How Solar Industry Leaders are Addressing and Overcoming the US–China Trade War

The US-China trade war has caused a significant impact on the solar industry, and that impact is expected to grow. In this webinar, learn how solar industry leaders are handling the effects of the US–China trade war and how they are preparing for the future.

Our first webinar of this series featured McDermott Will & Emery partner Carl Fleming, Pine Gate Renewables Director of Regulatory Affairs Brett White, Vice President of Construction James Froelicher and Assistant General Counsel Jess Cheney.

Below are key takeaways from the webinar:

1. Withholding Release Order. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a withholding release order (WRO) against Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. Ltd., a company located in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region wherein all silica-based products made by Hoshine and its subsidiaries are to be detained at all US ports of entry. Because of this WRO, manufacturers have been moving outside of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in order to avoid being subject to it.

There have been numerous detentions of silica-based products at multiple ports across the United States, and it is expected that the detention of materials will continue. In order to combat this, suppliers and industry leaders are presenting documentation to show that the materials are not being produced from forced labor or Hoshine and its subsidiaries.

Although the WRO was expected to cause significant disruption, it is not having as large of an impact as feared because many suppliers had already left the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

2. Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Petition. Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Petitions filed in August 2021 requested that the US Department of Commerce (DOC) include additional tariffs against solar panel imports from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The petitioners requested additional tariffs ranging from 50% – 250%. The DOC has yet to decide whether to investigate based on the petition, however, the impacts of the petition are already being felt with disruptions to the supply chain. If the DOC were to investigate, the solar industry would likely see a severe slowing of projects in 2022 and 2023 as neither suppliers nor developers are willing to bear the economic risk of the potential tariffs.

3. The DOC and the Biden Administration. The DOC and the Biden administration are expected to make decisions regarding tariffs, as well as anti-dumping and countervailing duties, that will directly affect the solar materials supply chain.

The Biden administration hopes to increase the domestic supply of solar materials, however, domestic manufacturers currently only produce approximately 25% of the overall demand for solar materials. As a result, the solar industry cannot immediately divert to purchasing solar materials from domestic manufacturers as the supply simply is not available. As an incentive to increase domestic manufacturing, solar industry leaders hope tax credits can be offered to companies that manufacture solar materials.

The Biden administration is expected to decide whether the 18% tariff on imported solar panels that [...]

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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.

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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.




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