Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

Shutting down for a while: On Jan 22, 2021 EPA published a notice that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was available for the Crimson Solar project, a 350-MW photovoltaic solar generation facility with battery storage, proposed on 2,500 acres of public lands in Riverside County, CA.  Project sponsor is Sonoran West Solar Holdings, LLC.  Then last week an update: the EIS is withdrawn.  Why?  The Bureau of Land Management made the move in response to President Biden’s Executive Order titled: “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.”  This is one project that has actually progressed through much of the tortuous federal permitting process.  The EO was sent out by Ronald A. Klain, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff.  Looks like Crimson Solar will be delayed for at least 60 days, but maybe longer.  Makes you wonder: what else has been stopped?

Always popular – new transmission rights-of-way: In December CT’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) issued its draft “Integrated Resources Plan” outlining pathways to a 100% zero carbon electric sector.  In theory, CT can get the power, but, of course, complex grid systems are not just about power.  The Draft is open for comment.  DEEP plans public hearings this month.  As always, the integration and transmission of renewable power presents a litany of complex and expensive problems.  Consider: Interconnection, say from offshore wind, is not full integration.  DEEP writes: “A significant amount of (renewable) energy will not be deliverable to consumers” without major transmission upgrades including “a need for additional transmission infrastructure to reliably export power out of Cape Cod and the SEMA/RI zone into the full New England grid.  Likely, this will include “extensive new transmission development on new rights-of way.”  Just something to get used to.

The “national interest” in flux: Last Tuesday the Department of Commerce, on behalf of a number of its agencies, filed a notice extending a decision date by 15 days regarding the Jordan Cove Energy Project and the 229 mile Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline and a new compressor station off the Pacific Coast. OR’s Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) filed an objection regarding the Jordan Cove project and now project sponsors want DOC to overrule the State, a finding to be made via the Coastal Zone Management Act, which provides that federal decisions pertaining to national security can trump more local concerns.  You may recall this process was similarly recently cited in Electric Boat’s appeal regarding New York’s concerns about ocean dumping of dredged material.  DOC since decided in favor of EB.  Reviewers now, of course, are charged with an entirely different set of filters!  Stay tuned!

Tom Ewing “reply” or 513-379-5526 voice/text