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Finally! A Renewable Energy Lawsuit

This post comes from one of our 11 industry insiders, that will all start writing in May, stay tuned! Jesse Gossett is a partner at Emergent Energy Group.

So there’s this lawsuit that just popped up where a Canadian energy company is suing the Massachusetts governments over a law that requires utilities to purchase their renewable energy from Massachusetts based firms.

Basically, I’m curious to see what holds water. I talked to some energy lawyers recently who think the interstate-commerce part of the suit may hold water, but the SREC (that a Solar Renewable Energy Credit) related charges are mostly hot air.

The inter-state issue is very… interesting. I personally find the interstate clause kind of murky, as it’s nice to give states the ability to bolster their own economies, though I suppose there’s a reason for the interstate commerce laws that goes deeper than just this one issue.  And if Cape Wind (the main reason behind the suit, I think) looses out on the added benefit of this particular law, it could put a dent in the ‘financability’ of the project. Then again, this is the first offshore project in the states, I have a feeling the investors know they’re taking a risk to begin with.

As for the SREC issue, many states are currently acting out the same system without problems. There is no exclusion happening, it’s more a ‘if you want to operate in our state, you have to follow our rules.’ You could almost view it as a tax. Trans-Canada might get away with a lower SREC supply component than their competitors as a settlement out of the suit, but I doubt it’ll go too far beyond that.

The final thing here is, the SREC market, while lucrative for solar developers, is a small potato for Trans-Canada compared to the 2.4 billion dollar field of sticks in the ocean that Jim Gordon has planned. The Cape Wind project itself is larger than the entire solar market is expected to be in MA in 6 years.

Anyways, let’s see where this lawsuit goes. Strangely, you don’t see too many in our field. Must be because it’s always been small potatoes. I guess that means we’re growing!


The Green Light Distrikt is a blog about all things Boston + Clean Tech + Innovation. Local Events, Resources, Industry Insiders. Connect on twitter with us @greenldistrikt

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