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Energy Attorneys at the Forefront of Business

September, 2018

Clean energy is a commodity in a fast-moving marketplace. The development industry that procures this commodity is not dissimilar from a soccer game – wherever the ball goes everyone is rushing to it. What this means is that forward-thinking clients need to anticipate which direction the ball is going to have an edge on the competition.

Because there is a need to spring into action, attorneys’ notice - even before the news has made its way to business-side conversation. The impact of a decision on a project’s internal rate of return could be a big or small percentage. In this sense, attorneys are ready to analyze legal and financial ramifications and strategize at the beginning - with private sector energy clients.

Attorney Elijah Emerson, who heads the energy and utility practice at the firm, views his expertise as especially valuable if initiated at the beginning of the process. “When clients come in at the start of the discussion, I can provide information that builds a strong roadmap. What this does is prevent a snowball from forming, where something that could have been stopped at the beginning leads to something larger down the road. This has been proven true where a client brings me in at the end of the process once the snowball is huge and expensive.”

When energy attorneys engage in law and policy simpatico with a market and financial outlook, it leads to wiser, more nuanced counsel.

For example, Massachusetts passed a compromise in July that allows for residential and utility-scale energy solar and storage developers to retain the right to bid the capacity from their facilities into the forward capacity market. Owners of larger facilities also can buy the capacity rights from utilities for solar net-metering facilities that include storage capacity. Our knowledge of the forward capacity market puts us in a position to discuss the impact of these events on the projects of our clients.

What this means, to put it simply if you are thinking about solar, you should be thinking about storage and vice versa. A storage project that is 100% charge by solar will maximize the Investment Tax Credit and provide a revenue stream with a higher return then what would be provided from a stand-alone project, or a storage project charged by the grid or a coal-fired power plant.

Furthermore, legislation directing the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) to study time-of-use rates and grid modernization indicates that the state has entered a new era of reform. These actions present a meaningful opportunity for New Hampshire to be a pioneer for rate design and grid modernization in the region.

In addition, by allocating higher rates during the afternoon when the sun is at its peak, the need for higher cost forms of generation such as diesel is alleviated. The rate structure being considered could strengthen this cost-saving potential and create a robust market for distributed energy resources. Grid modernization and time-of-use rates are consistent with the unregulated utility structure within the state, which participates in the wholesale ISO-NE market.

In conclusion, energy attorneys are also skilled business leaders who understand the marketplace. If you are a solar developer looking into an emerging opportunity, it would be best to utilize one as a resource from the kickoff.