On Nov. 30, 2022, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) aimed at enhancing cyber risk management in the pipeline and rail sectors. Indeed, the ANPRM recognizes the critical role pipelines and railroads play in ensuring economic and national security. But the ongoing and growing risk of cyberattacks increases

On Jan. 18, 2023, a consumer advocacy group issued a letter urging the California Attorney General’s Office to initiate an investigation into rising natural gas prices in the state. If the group’s campaign gains traction, California could join New York as another sizable market investigating whether recent increases in energy prices might give rise to price gouging or other consumer protection-related liability for companies throughout the supply chain.

Continue Reading Consumer Watchdog Calls on California AG to Investigate Rising Energy Prices

On Aug. 16, 2022, President Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), which includes new and revised tax incentives for clean energy projects. This alert provides a summary of the IRA’s impact on tax credits for energy storage technologies, which were extended and significantly expanded. Additional alerts will provide summaries of the IRA focused on credits for other clean energy technologies.

Continue Reading Inflation Reduction Act Creates New Tax Credit Opportunities for Energy Storage Projects

While utility companies and critical infrastructure companies have focused on digital sabotage and cybersecurity over the past few years, such companies must remain cognizant about continued risks of physical sabotage.

Continue Reading Physical Sabotage Remains A Substantial Risk to Utility Companies and Other Companies Providing Critical Infrastructure

On Dec. 2, 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) released its preliminary determinations over the ongoing investigation into whether solar cells and modules imported from certain Southeast Asian countries were circumventing U.S. duties on solar modules manufactured in the People’s Republic of China.

These findings arrive in the wake of a two-year moratorium on tariffs on solar cells and modules imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, as a result of Presidential Proclamation 10414.

The investigation, which began in March 2022, was prompted by allegations made by U.S.-based solar manufacturers against their Chinese competitors, claiming that the accused companies were evading tariffs by selling their products through the four Southeast nations.   

The DOC released its preliminary determinations after a thorough investigation into eight companies based in the four Southeast Asian countries. The DOC preliminarily concluded that four of the eight companies were bypassing U.S. tariffs by exporting Chinese-made solar modules that were only sent to Southeast Asia for minor processing before shipment. The table below summarizes the DOC’s preliminary findings.

Continue Reading Commerce Department Releases Preliminary Findings on Chinese Solar Manufacturers’ Alleged Circumvention

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) created many new and revised tax incentives to develop clean energy projects. Among many of these incentives, Congress included a requirement that taxpayers meet prevailing wage and apprenticeship (PWA) standards in the construction of a project to foster growth in good-paying jobs in the energy section. Taxpayers that do not meet these standards will be entitled to a tax benefit, but generally this results in an 80% haircut to the tax credit or deduction.

Continue Reading IRS Issues Prevailing Wage and Apprenticeship Guidance — Starts 60-Day Clock

As of October 6, 2022, operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines must comply with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (“PHMSA”) Final Rule on “Valve Installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards.”[1]  The Rule codifies several related design and performance standards across 49 C.F.R. Parts 192 and 195.  Those standards largely apply to new or replacement onshore gas transmission pipelines.[2]  Now, however, the Rule impacts gas distribution pipeline operators in two significant ways.  First, the Rule requires operators to implement and maintain certain emergency notification requirements.[3]  Second, the Rule obligates operators to develop, implement, and incorporate “lessons learned” from a post-failure or incident review into their written procedures.[4]  Unfortunately for operators, the second requirement illustrates the growing challenge operators face in ensuring that internal investigations remain protected by the work-product privilege.

Continue Reading New Federal Pipeline Safety Regulations Present Work-Product Concerns

On Sept. 16, 2022, the Department of Commerce (DOC) issued its final rule effectuating a two-year moratorium on tariffs on certain solar cells and modules exported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

As discussed in McGuireWoods’ June 7, 2022, alert, “President Biden Orders Tariff Exemption for Solar Panels,” President Biden’s Proclamation 10414 issued on June 6, 2022, declared an emergency and authorized the Secretary of Commerce to allow the importation of solar cells and modules exported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam for up to two years.
Continue Reading Department of Commerce Issues Final Rule Imposing Tariff Moratorium for Solar Panels

On Aug. 16, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), which includes new and revised tax incentives for clean energy projects. The IRA extends and significantly modifies the federal tax credits available for wind energy projects. This alert provides a summary for the wind industry. Additional alerts will provide summaries of the IRA focused on other clean energy technologies.
Continue Reading Inflation Reduction Act Extends and Modifies Tax Credits for Wind Projects

Debtors in bankruptcy have broad authority to shed unfavorable contracts through the executory contract rejection process, subject to approval of the bankruptcy court. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), on the other hand, has exclusive jurisdiction over any request to modify or abrogate a “filed rate” under the Federal Power Act and the Natural Gas Act, which includes certain power purchase agreements and natural gas transportation contracts. For years, debtors and distressed counterparties faced uncertainty as to whether a bankruptcy court’s rejection order could fully relieve the debtor from performing under a filed-rate contract or if further relief from FERC (potentially applying the stringent “public interest” standard set out in the Mobile-Sierra line of cases) may be necessary to excuse future performance.
Continue Reading More Courts Reject FERC’s Jurisdictional Claims in Battle Over Rejection of Filed-Rate Contracts in Bankruptcy