David Eves
President and C.E.O.
Public Service Company of Colorado
The summary that follows was submitted by Denver Law students Graham Coppes, David Fitzgerald, and Casey Giltner.

“The Global Energy Economy and the Status of Renewable Energy”

The first field discussed in the Summit dealt with the current state of the global energy economy and what role renewable energy sources played in this larger picture. David Eves, President and CEO of the Public Service Company of Colorado, opened the field by explaining his company’s connection with Excel Energy. Eves espoused on the Renewable Energy credentials of Xcel, a nationwide utility company based out of Minnesota. As a large public utility, Xcel operates in eight states, serving 60% of Colorado’s total energy use, most of which is coal or natural gas based.
Furthermore, Mr. Eves expounded upon the ideas of demand side management. These strategies in reducing consumer energy use seem at first to be counter-productive for a profit seeking public utility. However, Mr. Eves cleared the air surrounding this false dichotomy by explaining a few basic principles of unitary economic theory. Because building a new plant and burning the fuel has such high costs, it is actually cheaper and a more profitable business model for Xcel to encourage consumers to use less. So far, their energy efficiency plan has avoided the need for two new 250 MW power plants. This efficiency helps keep their rates 10-12% below the national average.
In the renewable field, Xcel utilizes greater wind resources than any other company in the United States. However, because of the realities of wind intermittency, the company struggles to meet peak load demand. In their attempt to serve reliability, utilities need to know an hour and a half ahead of time what energy they will be using for the next hour of generation. Thus, wind forecasting is vital. In light of this, Eves shared that his company spent $4 million developing greater forecasting capabilities. Largely, Eves touted their wind program as a hedge against natural gas prices and to avoid having to use coal. In his lecture, he only briefly touched on Xcel’s solar investments. Currently, they utilize 25 MW of utility based solar and 115 MW in rooftop solar. Eves further shared his belief in the superior viability of Solar PV because of the diminished transmission costs and the tangibility of this energy in relation to the consumer and their investment backed expectations.

Maryanne Kurtinaitis,
Renewable Energy Program Manager
Bureau of Land Management

“Survey of U.S. Laws Affecting the Siting and Development of Renewable Energy Projects”

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the Department of Interior (DOI) and manages over 250 million acres of public land. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established a goal for the approval of 10,000 megawatts (MW) of non-hydro renewable energy projects on public lands by 2015. The DOI and the BLM established an aggressive goal to meet the Energy Policy Act goal by 2012, instead of 2015. The BLM is on path to meet this goal by the end of 2012.
Wind and solar energy development is authorized by the BLM under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA). Under FLPMA, there is no authority to collect royalties for wind or solar projects. Geothermal development on public lands is authorized under the Geothermal Steam Act of 1970, through a competitive leasing program modeled after the leasing system for oil and gas. Royalties are collected under the Act and the distribution of leasing revenues is 50% to the states, 40% to the Federal Reclamation Fund, and 10% to the Treasury.
Two important tools the agency uses to site renewable energy development on public is the land use planning process and programmatic environmental impact statements (EIS). A programmatic EIS evaluates the environmental impacts of broad agency actions, such as the development of wind, solar, and geothermal programs.

Sandra Snodgrass
Of Counsel
Holland & Hart LLP
The summary that follows was submitted by Denver Law students Benjamin Glick, Eric Apjoke and Sean Marsh.

“Survey of U.S. Laws Affecting the Siting and Development of Renewable Energy Projects”

Sandra Snodgrass outlined federal environmental regulation of renewable energy projects, focusing on NEPA, the ESA, the MBTA, and BGEPA. NEPA sets forth procedural requirements for analyzing the environmental impacts of proposed federal action. A renewable energy project involving federal action may require the development of an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement, or may be categorically excluded from NEPA’s requirements. The ESA applies when developers’ actions may affect listed species or designated critical habitat. If the project has a federal nexus, Section 7 consultation is triggered, which is designed to ensure the proposed action does not jeopardize listed species or adversely modify or destroy critical habitat. If no federal action is involved and the “take” of listed species may occur, developers can obtain an incidental take permit under Section 10, which requires the preparation of a habitat conservation plan. MBTA and BGEPA are of particular interest to wind developers because they impose criminal liability for harm to avian species. Because an incidental take permit is not available under the MBTA, developers must manage risk through best management practices and coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. BGEPA has an eagle take permit program that is still in its infancy. Because of the specter of criminal liability, avoiding implicating these statutes is the lowest risk option.

Dr. Dan Arvizu
Director and Chief Executive
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
The summary that follows was submitted by Denver Law student Jenni Barnes.

“Renewable Energy: How Technology Innovation is Changing our Energy Future”

On November 7, 2011, Dr. Dan Arvizu delivered an insightful lunchtime speech for the Renewable Energy Law & Policy Summit hosted by University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Dr. Arvizu, Director and Chief Executive of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), discussed how technology innovation is changing our energy future. His talk focused on NREL’s unique mission of placing technology into the private market place. First, Dr. Arvizu discussed renewable energy markets and the global effects of renewable energy technology. He announced that in the last decade there has been serious progress with renewable energy technology; wind power capacity and solar PV global installed capacity increased exponentially; costs have significantly decreased; and the clean energy market grew from a one billion dollar a year industry to an over two hundred billion dollar a year industry. However, the percent of global electricity produced from renewable energies has slightly declined largely due to the huge increase in overall energy usage by developing countries such as China, where, by new capacity additions, they are still disproportionately using coal to generate electricity.
Dr. Arvizu then turned his talk to the uniqueness of the energy market and the role of the national government. Unlike other sectors of the economy, energy has always been highly regulated and is not based solely on classical supply and demand economics. This is part of the reason that NREL needs to work with the private sector and reduce the risk for private parties investing in renewable energy. One distinction with energy markets is that, because of the premium we put on reliability, generation assets of energy largely exceed energy demand. Dr. Arvizu also discussed how the lifecycle of power plants is quite long. Thus, when the nation makes a decision regarding energy it is a long-term decision that will continue to affect the market for half a century or more. He also addressed how national policy can guide decisions and drive the energy market. For example, in Germany solar is much less expensive than the United States as a result of its national policy even though Germany’s overall energy prices are much higher. In Germany renewable energy is highly incentivized and barriers reduced where in the United States regulatory drivers such as the price of permitting, insurance, and siting increases the cost. In addition, the United States subsidizes non-renewable energy to make it cheaper than anywhere in the world, and this makes it more difficult to reach grid parity with cleaner alternative energy sources. Next, Dr. Arvizu talked about specific energy technology innovations. He was particularly excited about solar technology, such as Crystalline Silicon, Silicon Ink, CIGS thin-film manufacturing process using inkjet printing, Black Silicon, and Flash Quantum Efficiency System. He also concentrated on how technology can play a role in buildings, which are the largest source of electricity consumption in the United States. He drew the audience’s attention to NREL’s latest Research Support Facility which uses 2.5 MW of solar photovoltaic technology to achieve, on an annual basis, net-zero energy usage. It is an ultra efficient building that is complemented with renewable energy generation. The building is very attractive, and models responsible design, orientation, and building materials. He also mentioned that NREL was able to construct the building without expending increased capital beyond comparable buildings built to code in the Denver area. Finally, Dr. Arvizu discussed the problem with the current energy transmission system, and the benefits of a smart grid. Smart grid is a type of electrical grid which attempts to predict and intelligently respond to the behavior and actions of all electric power generators and users connected to it. He noted that renewable energy technology depends on updating the older unintelligent grid to a newer model, such as the smart grid. Dr. Arvizu ended the talk with a call for change in the market and mentality about renewable energy. He stressed the importance of innovation, integrating new technology, and collaborating with many different partners. Overall, the talk was very insightful and motivating about the needed changes to our energy market and the potential of renewable energy technology.

John Bremer
General Counsel
Western Area Power Administration
The summary that follows was submitted by Denver Law students.

“Regional and National Transmission Concerns and Progress”

John Bremer described WAPA, its role in electricity transmission, and its responsibilities. WAPA was originally formed as a federal agency responsible for the delivering of hydroelectric power from hydropower plants within the central and western U.S. and has become active in renewable energy transmission projects. Under authority granted under §402 of the Recovery Act, WAPA may borrow funds from the United States Treasury to construct, finance, facilitate, plan, operate, maintain, and/or study construction of new or upgraded electric power transmission lines and related facilities with at least one terminus in Western’s marketing area, that deliver or facilitate the delivery of power from renewable resources constructed or reasonably expected to be constructed after the date of enactment of the Recovery Act. A number of financial safeguards are included in the legislation and WAPA procedures and regulations to protect taxpayers and to guarantee repayment for investments. However, the future of WAPA’s efforts in this area are uncertain. HR2915 would eliminate WAPA’s borrowing authority, but to date has not moved past the House Natural Resources Committee. Mr. Bremer also addressed another recent policy change, FERC’s Order 1000, which will significantly impact the manner in which necessary transmission projects are planned and the allocation of costs for those projects.

Roxane Perruso
Vice President and General Counsel
Power Company of Wyoming LLC and TransWest Express LLC
The summary that follows was submitted by Denver Law students.

“Regional and National Transmission Concerns and Progress”

Roxane Perruso gave a presentation on the proposed TransWest Express Transmission Project. The TWE Project is a 600 kV DC transmission line designed to provide 3,000 MW of capacity. The TWE Project’s 725-mile proposed route will cross Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada, primarily on federal lands but also on state and private lands. Its primary purpose will be to deliver Wyoming wind-generated electricity – including electricity from a planned 1000-turbine wind farm in Carbon County, WY – to a hub near Las Vegas, NV. The wind power will be sold into the Nevada, California, and Arizona energy markets.

Conceptual engineering, design and siting work has been completed and environmental reviews are already underway, but there are more steps to take before construction begins. TransWest Express LLC, the project proponent, must acquire the rights of way or easements once the environmental reviews have been completed and a preferred route is identified. They must also satisfy all of the regulatory requirements associated with the project, such as the line’s engineering rating by WECC, rate and tariff approval from FERC, and the state and county permits. Ms. Perruso described the non-linear nature of the transmission approval processes, stating that there is no one way to approach the different approvals required. An additional complication comes from the fact that there are ongoing federal, state, and local policy changes that affect energy projects, including transmission lines. Ms. Perruso also described TransWest Express LLC’s recent partnership agreement with Western Area Power Administration, under which Western will fund half of the project’s development costs. Western is also pursuing potential ownership of 50% of the TWE Project.

Todd Foley
Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations
American Council on Renewable Energy
The summary that follows was submitted by Denver Law students.

“Renewable Energy Incentives”

Todd Foley, Senior Vice President of Policy & Government Relations at the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), discussed the market drivers for renewable energy and the current state of policy, finance and renewable energy markets. State Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) have had huge impacts on the market. RPS programs act as the market demand signal for renewable energy while federal policies, in the form of tax credits, cash grants, and loan guarantees, complement these state policies and have helped leverage over $24 billion in total investment to support market demand for renewable energy sources. The extension of the 1603 Treasury Grant after its expiration at the end of 2011 would continue one of the most important policies to date and have significant implications on the future renewable energy market. Along with these grants, the EPA MACT rules under Clean Air Act regulation and the FERC Order 1000 are will provide further support for clean energy, transmission planning, and cost allocation.

Kate Marks
Managing Director
National Association of State Energy Officials
The summary that follows was submitted by Denver Law students.

“Renewable Energy Incentives”

Kate Marks, with the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), addressed the value of the U.S. State Energy Program funding and public-private partnerships in the promotion of renewable energy, opportunities to accelerate renewable integration, and emerging trends and barriers in the renewable energy sector. NASEO facilitates peer exchange among the states to explore state and community renewable energy development, policies such as feed-in tariffs, and emerging technologies. As a state example, Ms. Marks highlighted that in Colorado ten thousand jobs have been created over the past five years due to an increase in renewable energy development. Colorado’s renewable energy market is supported through a number of financial incentives and regulatory policies that encourage investment. At the state level, the main policy driver is an appropriately designed renewable portfolio standard with clear objectives, broad applicability, sufficient duration, defined resource eligibility, and credible enforcement. Designing an effective RPS is not easy, and varying state experiences highlight the importance of design details. While demand for renewable energy is expected, there are emerging barriers in the form of uncertainty and capital, and whether the sector can maintain stability through political attacks, cost concerns and rate impacts.

Keith Martin
Chadbourne & Parke, LLP
The summary that follows was submitted by Denver Law students.

“Renewable Energy Incentives”

Keith Martin, of Chadbourne & Parke, LLP, discussed the project financing aspects of the renewable energy incentives. He explained that 56 cents of every dollar in a wind or solar project is paid for in the form of tax subsidies (30 cents in tax credits and 26 cents in depreciation). Currently there are 18 active tax equity investors and 30 banks are active in the project finance market. Unfortunately, Greek default is starting to be felt in “market flex” provisions. Renewable Energy could use a federal renewable energy standard or a cost placed on carbon in order to counter current political headwinds. The future of financing incentives is in the hands of the Supercommittee of 12 members of Congress who are struggling to agree by November 23 on at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. Right now the real threat to subsidies is broad tax reform in 2013 and 2014.