The Law of Wind: A Guide to Business and Legal Issues

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Click here to download The Law of Wind - 8th Edition

Two decades ago, utility-scale wind-powered electric generation was still an untried novelty in the United States. In those days, some utilities purchased wind power as a result of requirements imposed by their state regulators. Others did so in order to garner some favorable PR as the public grew more concerned about the contribution of fossil fuel generation to climate change. But as developers got better at siting, building, and operating wind projects; equipment manufacturers improved the productivity of their machines; and utilities suffered the economic hits that resulted from what was then a volatile natural gas market with prices sometimes spiking by several hundred percent in a short period of time, the value of wind as part of the resource mix in an integrated generation portfolio slowly began to be realized. Notwithstanding the intermittent nature of wind, utilities came to appreciate its ability to produce significant megawatts at a price that was fixed for the life of the offtake agreement.

This trend has continued to the present. The industry has shown itself capable of continuing to improve wind project output, lowering the price to where, for several years now, it is price competitive with natural gas—and this in a fracking environment where the price of natural gas has been at all-time lows and its pricing volatility has yet to re-emerge. And despite an unfavorable political climate that seeks to promote a resurgence of coal-fired generation, the electric industry continues to retire coal plants, speaking loudly as to its vision of the future notwithstanding the short-sightedness of the current group of politicians in Washington. The loss of the production tax credit in the next few years will no doubt require some adjustment and re-posturing. But when one considers that the price of wind has been reduced from over $90 per MWh in the early 2000s to well under $25 per MWh in recent years, there is every reason to have confidence that the industry will meet this challenge as well.

As one of the first law firms to focus on wind energy, Stoel Rives is pleased to have worked with so many talented industry players over the years to help bring wind generation to its current level of success. Our dedication to assisting the industry in moving forward is demonstrated by the significant time and effort we have devoted to preparing and keeping current materials like The Law of Wind and its companion publications in other areas of renewable energy. As attorneys, we take seriously our duty to help educate the industry and the public in general on the legal aspects of developing, constructing, financing, and operating wind energy resources.

This represents the eighth edition of The Law of Wind. As the industry has matured, much of the legal environment has become well known, perhaps even routine in many instances. And yet there are still significant developments that require tracking. The impact of the 2017 tax reform act, the integration of storage solutions, and the continued buildout of the transmission system to bring wind power from windy sites to load all continue to present new challenges for the industry to meet and the law to accommodate. With this edition we once again renew our dedication to the wind industry and our commitment to provide informed, experienced advice to all who share our dream of a cleaner energy future.

Download The Law of Wind - 8th Edition (PDF)

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