Emerging Markets Law

Showing 6 posts from May 2011.

Podcast: 50-State Survey of Renewable Portfolio Standards

Posted In Podcast

The folks at LexisNexis have published our podcast on Renewable Portfolio Standards. The recording covers the highlights of the Renewable Energy Committee's Spring 2011 report which contained a comprehensive 50-state survey of state renewable portfolio standards.

Thanks to all of my colleagues from the Committee who participated in the recording and in writing and preparing the report.  

New Jersey Waste-to-Energy Plant on Drawing Board

Organic Diversion, a New-Jersey based composting company, has announced plans to build a waste-to-energy facility in Southern New Jersey.

Rocco D’Antonio, the founder of Organic Diversion LLC, said that the company is still seeking permits to build an anaerobic digestion facility to convert collected food waste into energy.  “For the past two years, we’ve been building our collection business,” he said. “We do operational analyses of commercial food waste generators and put together operation plans,” he said. “We bring in the appropriate containers, we conduct all the training and following training for the account, and with our own trucks we come in and collect the material as scheduled.”  

According to D'Antonio, the next step is to build the receiving facility to convert collected food waste into energy through an anaerobic digestion process. He plans to build a facility that would have the capacity to take in roughly 60,000 tons of organic waste per year, producing 2MW of power.  The plant would also capture and recycle waste heat.

D’Antonio said the company hasn’t decided yet what to do with the power it will produce, but plugging it into the grid is one possibility.

Preventing odor is a significant part of the planning process, as nuisance odors are often a concern in the permitting process.  “Odor management has been part of our operating plan and design from very early on, because there have been too many facilities shut down because of odors. We decided if we were going to do something in a very densely populated area like New Jersey, we had to make sure that we were very confident that we wouldn’t have an issue.”

Podcast - 50-State Survey of Renewable Portfolio Standards

Thanks to all of my colleagues from the Renewable Energy Committee of the ABA's Public Utility Section who participated with me last week in recording our podcast. The recording will trace over the highlights of the Committee's Spring 2011 report which contained a comprehensive 50-state survey of state renewable portfolio standards.

Steve Berstler and his crew at Lexis-Nexis should have the recording available in the Emerging Issues section of the Lexis-Nexis Communities website.

The Great PACE Controversy

Posted In Government

I co-authored an article in this month's issue of Probate and Property entitled, "The Great PACE Controversy," covering the ongoing litigation that has bogged down efforts to implement "Property Assessed Clean Energy" (or "PACE") financing programs. (Link to article requires ABA Section of Real Property membership).

PACE financing was intended to allow property owners to borrow money, at relatively low interest rates, secured by the equity in their property, for the purpose of purchasing energy efficiency or renewable energy improvements to the property. (The best background information is available from the PACENOW site.) Enabling legislation would allow municipal financing districts to issue bonds to fund the projects and the property owner would be obligated to repay the financing, with interest, through a super-priority tax lien on the property in favor of the financing district.

Although the program was endorsed by the Obama administration, the mortgage lending industry (especially Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) objected, arguing that the PACE liens on real property would interfere with mortgages underwritten through their programs.

As the article describes, the nationwide implementation of PACE financing has largely stalled and is the subject of litigation in the State of California.

Cobalt Raises $20 Million in Series D Round

Cobalt Technologies announced that it raised $20M in Series D financing, according to Biofuels Digest.

The round was led by The Whittemore Collection Ltd., the investment vehicle of Parsons & Whittemore, formerly one of the world’s largest manufacturers of market pulp and builder of some 60 pulp mills in 28 countries.

All of Cobalt’s current venture investors also participated, including Pinnacle Ventures, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Life Sciences Partners, @Ventures, Harris & Harris and Burrill and Company.

The company claims that the additional capital will enable it to build out its new 470,000 gallon per year demonstration plant in Alpena, Michigan, which will be the world’s first cellulosic biorefinery for the production of the industrial chemical n-butanol. In addition, the funding will enable Cobalt to expand its network of strategic relationships, to begin development of its first commercial facilities and to progress its partnership with the U.S. Navy to develop bio jet fuel.

Cobalt Technologies has developed a continuous process that takes non-food feedstocks like sugar cane bagasse, woody biomass, palm waste and glycerol from biodiesel production and converts it into renewable biobutanol.  Biobutanol is a valuable industrial chemical that is widely used in paints and other coatings, and is a platform molecule that can be converted into other valuable chemicals such as 2 ethyl hexanol and 1-butene and also converted into renewable jet fuel

Vermont Adopts Pellet Incentives

The State of Vermont has announced an incentive to encourage a switch to biomass pellets for heating purposes.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin ordered that the incentives become part of the state’s comprehensive energy plan due out this fall. “This makes sense for Vermont’s economy; it makes sense for Vermont’s environment; and it makes sense for Vermonters’ pocketbooks,” he said. “This would be a great use of wood and pellets, and a strong integration of our energy goals with our economic interests.”

The state has not mandated a timeline for implementing the new incentives, but Efficiency Vermont hopes to launch it this summer, according to George Twigg, the group’s deputy policy director. The state already provides direct financial incentives to consumers for fossil fuels, he said, and this program will be similar, although the specific amount has yet to be determined. The incentives will essentially be a rebate for purchasing wood pellet-burning equipment and will apply to residential, as well as commercial applications.

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