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Energy & Sustainability Washington Updates – November 2018


Although Congressional activity has been curtailed this month with members largely at home campaigning ahead of the November 6 midterm elections, there has been some activity on energy policy.

The Senate approved by voice vote S. Res. 672 expressing the sentiment of Congress that electric cooperative energy programs reduce energy consumption and save participants money. Also approved by voice vote was S. Res. 668, designating October 5, 2018 as Energy Efficiency Day, and by unanimous consent S. Res. 664 designating October 8 as National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, with the House also approving a similar resolution.

We are currently watching for a potential tax extenders package post-election that could address several energy-related provisions, although the outcome of the election may determine whether or not an extenders package moves. The most recent tax extenders package was included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 earlier this year, which for the most part retroactively extended a number of provisions for the 2017 tax year. No tax extenders bill exists as of this writing, but House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said recently that an extenders package could emerge during the lame duck.

Executive Branch

President Trump declared October as National Energy Awareness Month, saying in a statement that his administration is “reducing regulatory burdens on the energy sector, developing innovative energy technologies, and building new energy-related infrastructure.”

The President also announced a number of nominations, including that of Rita Baranwal to be Assistant Secretary of Energy (Nuclear Energy) at the Department of Energy (DOE), and of Bernard McNamee to be a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

On October 29, the DOE announced the upcoming publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) introducing administrative procedures to implement DOE’s designation authority for Critical Electric Infrastructure Information (CEII). The Federal Register notice initiates a 60-day public comment period that ends on December 28, 2018.

On October 23, the DOE announced selections for up to $53 million in new projects to advance early-stage solar technologies. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will fund 53 innovative research projects aimed at lowering solar electricity costs and supporting a growing solar workforce.

On October 9, the DOE announced the selection of seven projects totaling nearly $11.4 million to advance geothermal energy development focusing on accelerating the research and development of innovative geothermal technologies. Recipients include projects at Argonne National Laboratory, General Electric Company, Oklahoma State University, Sandia National Laboratories, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, and the University of Oklahoma.

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About this Author

Member / Chair, Energy & Sustainability Practice

Tom Burton’s zeal for innovation and passion for energy and sustainability have shaped the clean energy industry. He created one of the nation’s first clean energy legal practices. Clients ranging from investors to entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 companies rely on him for creative and strategic legal solutions, and he has completed hundreds of venture capital and private equity financings, mergers and acquisitions, and IPOs. He guides the industry’s next generation of leaders through active involvement with start-up organizations and accelerators. The Northeast Clean Energy Council recognized...

Sahir Surmeli Energy & Sustainability Attorney Mintz Levin

Sa is a highly skilled and versatile business counselor who advises companies, boards, entrepreneurs, investment banks and venture and private equity investors, as they build and grow companies. He handles public offerings, 144A and private financings, acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic partnerships. Sa guides public and private companies and investors, primarily in the energy and sustainability, technology, materials science, hospitality, retail and life sciences industries. Known as a problem-solver, Sa executes transactions with creative structures to address new opportunities in finance and development of new markets by clients in partnership with global corporations. He also helps entrepreneurs secure financing, commercial agreements and partnerships.

Sahir represents emerging growth and established energy technology, information technology, life sciences and retail companies, investors and investment banks in public offerings, 144A offerings and other private financings, mergers & acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic partnerships. Sa is listed among the Top 100 Cleantech & Renewables Lawyers by Euromoney’s LMG Cleantech & Renewable Energy. He was also named a Massachusetts Super Lawyer in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Sa is a senior member of the firm’s Securities Practice Group and Technology Practice Group and serves as Co-chair of the firm's Energy & Sustainability Practice. The firm’s Energy & Sustainability Practice has completed more than 500 transactions across energy sectors totaling over $8.5 billion since 2006. Serving more than 250 clients, spanning the ecosystem from emerging companies to large corporations, venture capital and private equity funds, investment banks, project developers, and family offices, the firm is recognized nationally as a leading law firm in the space.

Sa has worked on a wide variety of capital-raising projects, including equity, debt, syndicated loan, strategic investment and structured finance offerings, with aggregate proceeds of more than $10.6 billion. He has extensive experience in corporate finance and securities law as well as mergers and acquisitions. Sa represents issuers, underwriters, initial purchasers, and placement agents in public and private equity offerings, debt offerings (particularly high-yield, but also investment grade), bank financings, leveraged buyouts, securitizations, and related transactions as well as private equity funds in leveraged buyouts. He is also a key contributor to MintzEdge, an online resource for entrepreneurs that includes useful tools and information for starting and growing a company.

Sa has an MBA in corporate finance and focuses on adding value in complex financing structures and helping younger companies navigate the challenges of the public and private markets. He handles projects in a broad range of sectors, including energy and clean technology, information technology, telecommunications, materials technology, biotech, aerospace, semiconductor, retail and hospitality. He also has extensive international experience — he previously practiced in New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong and now works from the Boston office of Mintz. He has represented clients in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.