Energy Technology Connections Newsletter: Your Law Firm Link to Industry News - September 2015

by Mintz Levin

A Note from the Editors

Our September edition of Energy Technology Connections brings you recent industry highlights, the latest news from Capitol Hill, and a list of upcoming energy industry events. In Leaders in the News, we highlight our client True North Venture Partners, whose portfolio company Nanostone Water acquired Ultura's membrane business. In Event Highlights, we include details on the Impact Capitalism Summit New England and our own Tom Burton's roundtable discussion. Finally, the Washington Update recaps a busy few months in Washington, where broad energy packages came out of Congress and the Obama administration released the final Clean Power Plan.

For links to industry grant opportunities and stories from the business, policy, and research sectors of the energy and clean technology industry, please see our Energy Navigator.


Leaders in the News

Event Highlights

Washington Update

Energy Navigator

Upcoming Events

Leaders in the News

Congrats to our client True North Venture Partners, whose portfolio company Nanostone Water earlier this year announced the acquisition of Ultura’s membrane business. Nanostone Water is a membrane solutions company with ceramic and polymeric membranes serving industrial process fluid and water treatment applications. Its team, comprised of industry experts with experience at GE Water & Process Technologies, Infilco Degramont, Hydraunatics, Koch Membranes, NanoH2O, and Osmonics, is focused on combining a new generation of ceramic membranes with a portfolio of high performance polymeric membrane products.

The Ultura acquisition, according to Nanostone CEO David Jellison “aligns our company with a powerful combination of ceramic and polymeric membrane technologies. We expect our ceramic monolith technology to be truly game-changing, while the newly acquired polymeric membrane portfolio is widely recognized for high performance in a variety of industrial process and water treatment applications. Together, the combination of ceramic and polymeric technologies will offer our customers a unique membrane portfolio delivering the highest level of separations efficiency and effectiveness across a wide range of critical applications.”

True North Venture Partners, based in Chicago, invests in early stage businesses producing disruptive technologies that have transformative potential. They specifically support socially important industries such as energy, water, agriculture, and waste. The company is devoted to building and supporting its portfolio businesses with continued investment and expertise over time. Because True North is involved in industries that existing modes of investing have not very successfully supported, it focuses on unique and innovative solutions for its partners, including: establishing global scope, developing a public sector strategy, learning from best practices, accessing expertise across capital structures, and combining flexible persistence with staying power. The Mintz Levin team enjoyed supporting True North on this deal, and is excited to see what’s in store for the future!

Event Highlights

Following 2014’s landmark Impact Capitalism Summit (ICS) in Chicago, from July 15-16 Big Path Capital hosted the 1st Annual ICS New England in Nantucket. The two-day event, aimed at family offices, high net worth individuals, and family foundations deploying capital across asset classes for return and impact, featured panel sessions in various asset classes including public equity, public debt, private equity, private debt, and direct investments. The conference focused on strategies for deploying impact investing in ways that create positive change without sacrificing returns. Keynote speakers included former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Matthew Bishop, Globalisation Editor of The Economist.

Our own Tom Burton moderated a panel titled “Climate Change Solutions” that included Vipul Bhagat of the International Finance Corporation, Charlie Lord of Renew Energy Partners, and Duane Peterson of SunCommon. The discussion covered some broad renewable energy trends while also taking a deeper dive into innovative business models, utilities of the future, emerging markets, and cleantech adoption. Tom and the presenters also provided an update on the current state of cleantech capital access and forecasted where the industry is headed.

Washington Update

Energy and climate issues garnered significant attention before the August recess, and congressional, administration, and international efforts will remain high through the end of the year. Following months of hearings and negotiations, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released July 22 their broad, bipartisan energy bill, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. The much anticipated legislation includes a wide range of policy measures, including expediting the Department of Energy’s liquefied natural gas export approval process, increasing electric grid cybersecurity provisions, reauthorizing basic and experimental energy research programs, ensuring grid reliability, providing for 26 energy efficiency provisions (19 of which are related to building efficiency), encouraging advanced vehicles, updating the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s hydropower licensing process, and more. Senators have already prepared dozens of amendments to the broad package, with Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) indicating that he has offered amendments on the Keystone XL pipeline, coal ash, Clean Water Act, and fracking issues, among others, while saving some of the most controversial amendments for a Senate floor debate. Senator Cory Gardner will offer an amendment to address delays in privately run renewable energy projects that are housed on federal land.

The committee also approved by a large margin the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill (S. 720) as well as the Offshore Production and Energizing National Security Act, which combines Senator Murkowski’s plan to lift the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports with an expansion of offshore drilling and coastal state revenue sharing. Despite the fact that much of the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency package is included in the broader bill, the committee moved forward with the standalone language as well at the request of Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) in case the broader bill gets bogged down by amendments or unrelated political issues, as the energy efficiency measure did last time around. The committee also approved Jonathan Elkind’s nomination to be assistant energy secretary for international affairs.

On July 22, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power marked up and approved the lower chamber’s four-part bipartisan energy bill. The most controversial measures, including a repeal of the crude oil export ban, language that would have prevented the Department of Energy from implementing furnace efficiency standards, and a repeal of the 2007 law requiring federal buildings to phase out fossil fuel use by 2030, were left out of the package in an attempt to secure sufficient bipartisan support. The package does include measures to streamline the federal citing process for interstate natural gas pipelines and to allow the Department of Energy to take emergency measures to protect grid security, among other things. The full House Energy and Commerce Committee will consider the bill in September, and committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) have agreed to only add language that both parties can accept, though the legislation is likely to change significantly in the next couple of months.

President Obama unveiled the final Clean Power Plan August 3, along with a regulatory impact analysis. His announcement follows a lengthy process during which the Administration considered millions of comments and worked with stakeholders across the board. The final rule reflects that input, giving states and utilities additional time to preserve sufficient, reliable, and affordable power in the United States. The CPP sets strong standards to reduce CO2 emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030, a 2% increase from the proposed rule, while maintaining energy reliability and affordability. Power plants currently account for 40% of CO2 emissions in the United States. The administration estimates that the Clean Power Plan will prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 non-fatal heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and 300,000 missed workdays and schooldays in 2030. The plan is expected to lead to 30% more renewable energy generation in 2030, creating tens of thousands of jobs while continuing to reduce renewable energy costs. It is also projected to save the average American family nearly $85 a year on energy bills in 2030, save enough energy to power 30 million homes in 2030, and save consumers $155 billion from 2020-2030. For further detail and analysis, see our blog post.

Reactions to the Clean Power Plan are already streaming in, with Congressional Democrats, Democratic candidates, states such as California, and public health and environmental organizations expressing support for the rule. Congressional Republicans, Republican presidential candidates, conservative states, and the fossil fuel industry, on the other hand, widely oppose it. Responses from manufacturing, utilities, and the corporate world are mixed. At least six governors have indicated that they will resist submitting a State Implementation Plan to the agency, and several states and industry groups are quickly preparing legal action against the measure.

Energy Navigator

Please visit and bookmark our Energy Navigator to easily view all of the latest headlines from the most trusted publications reporting on developments in the energy and clean technology industries. It is housed on our blog, Energy Technology Matters.

Upcoming Events

Solar Power International

September 14–17, 2015
Anaheim, CA

More Info »

Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030 Summit

September 16, 2015
Washington, DC

More Info »

23rd Annual Evening with the Stars of Energy Efficiency Awards Dinner

September 17, 2015
Washington, DC

More Info »

Reinventing Existing Buildings: The Path to Increasing Energy Productivity

September 17, 2015
Washington, DC

More Info »

Water Innovation Summit

September 22–23, 2015
Berkely, CA

More Info »

REV4NY Exchange

September 24–25, 2015
New York, NY

More Info »

Massachusetts Green Careers Conference

October 1, 2015
Marlborough, MA

More Info »

Energy Storage North America

October 13–15, 2015
San Diego, CA

More Info »

2015 NYC Cleantech Summit

October 19-20, 2015
New York, NY

More Info »

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Written by:

Mintz Levin

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