May 7th, 2010

Finally! A Renewable Energy Lawsuit


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!

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Jesse Gossett

About Jesse Gossett

Jesse Gossett was born in the wilderness of Washington State and is currently the Director of Community Affairs at Emergent Energy Group. His efforts focus on developing new ways of helping clients, staying abreast of renewable energy policy and regulations, and overall project management. Emergent Energy Groups plans, designs, and facilitates the advancement of community focused energy and sustainability solutions. Our contribution helps public and private entities assess, optimize, and create on-site clean energy systems.Emergent Energy Group has recently won Business Week's 'Top 25 Under 25 Competition'.

  • Noel Kelly
  • Mark Durrenberger

    I’m thinking that the Solar RPS Carve out indicated that the solar power must be generated in MA but does not have to be installed by a MA company. (BTW you can follow me on Twitter @TheEnergyMiser (Massachusetts based solar installer)

  • Chris Williams


    Interesting distinction, it seems rather simple and that that would have been picked up by the lawyers. We’ll see how it develops, it seems it will have the largest implications for larger projects with financing is more of an issue.

    You can follow me on twitter @greenLdistrikt! also, @GLDNYC is about to launch, stay tuned!