United States: Energy & Sustainability 2017 Year In Review

Last Updated: January 31 2018
Article by Thomas R. Burton III and Sahir Surmeli

Tax Bill

The biggest changes to the U.S. tax system in decades went into effect on January 1st after the President signed the tax reform bill just before Christmas. The legislation will have varied implications for the energy sector:

  • Utilities will likely see increased savings due to:

    • the lower corporate tax rate,
    • a federal income tax deduction on interest expense and state and local taxes, and
    • continued normalization rules for regulated utilities.
  • Fossil fuel companies, which will pay less under the new corporate tax rate, viewed the bill as a win.
  • The legislation opens up a section of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.
  • The bill did not include a continuation of nuclear tax credits for projects brought online after 2020, which could stall the Vogtle Nuclear Project in Georgia currently under construction.
  • With regard to renewables, the legislation retained 80% of the value of the Investment Tax Credit and the Production Tax Credit. However, the final bill also includes the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT), which requires companies to make two calculations in assessing tax liability: 1) quantifying 10% of the company's taxable income, and 2) quantifying the company's tax liability while subtracting any tax credits. If #2 is less than #1, the company has to pay the balance. Since tax equity investments make up the majority of funding for renewable projects, the provision makes renewable investments less appealing to large, risk-averse companies and will ultimately lead to increased costs for clean energy projects.
  • While the bill maintained the $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles, it did not extend credits for other advanced energy technologies.

Energy & Sustainability Milestones

Energy and Sustainability related activities made headlines in 2017:

  • February:

    • For a few brief hours, over 50% of the energy supply for an area covering 14 Southwestern states was met by wind energy – a new record for wind penetration.
  • March:

  • April:

    • The Department of Energy reported that solar jobs are growing 17 times faster than the rest of the American economy and that the solar industry now employs twice as many people as the coal industry.
  • July:

    • GE announced plans to build the United States' largest wind farm, to go online in 2020.
  • August:

    • Mercom Capital Group reported that in the first half of 2017, over $1 billion in venture capital and private equity funding had been invested in battery storage, smart grid, and energy efficiency companies worldwide.
    • Massachusetts joined the eight other states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in announcing a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an additional 30% by 2030 relative to 2020 levels.
  • September:

    • The Department of Energy released new research showing that the solar industry in the United States had achieved the 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set by the SunShot Initiative, primarily due to rapid cost declines in solar photovoltaic hardware. The average price of utility-scale solar is now six cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
    • Tesla announced the opening of Supercharger stations in downtown Boston and Chicago, representing the first step in the company's efforts to expand its electric vehicle charging network into urban areas. From January through August 2017, fully electric vehicle sales in the United States grew 47% over 2016.
  • October:

    • Reports confirmed that solar is the fastest growing source of power globally, accounting for almost two-thirds of net new energy capacity over the past year.
    • For the seventh consecutive year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy named Massachusetts the most energy-efficient state in the country.
    • The Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC), the nation's foremost clean energy advocacy group, recognized our own Tom Burton as one of the eight most influential clean energy industry leaders over the last decade at NECEC's 10th Annual Green Tie Gala.
  • November:

    • According to a report from the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University, the global economy must triple its annual investment in low-emissions technology, from $750 billion per year between 2010 and 2015 to $2.3 trillion per year going forward until 2040, to keep the planet under two degrees Celsius warmer compared to pre-industrial levels.
  • December:

    • Google purchased 536 megawatts of wind power from four different power plants, adding to the company's profile as the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. Though not all projects are online, the acquisition means Google has agreed to buy all of the power necessary to run its global operations on 100% renewable energy.

Energy & Sustainability: Policy Developments

A handful of developments related to Energy and Sustainability emerged from Washington, D.C. in 2017:

  • January:

    • Texas Governor Rick Perry was confirmed as Energy Secretary, and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was confirmed as EPA Administrator.
  • March:

    • President Trump signed an executive order dismantling portions of President Obama's landmark climate change regulations. The order directs the agency to review and likely repeal the 2015 Clean Power Plan (111d), which requires existing power plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the earlier Section 111(b) rule limiting GHG emissions from future power plants. It also lifts the year-old coal leasing moratorium, unravels EPA and Department of Interior regulations on methane emissions and fracking, and overturns guidance for incorporating climate change into federal projects and the social cost of carbon.
  • June:

    • President Trump announced that the United States would cease implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, making it the only country in the world planning to opt out of the accord. In response, a number of U.S. states and cities announced their intention to go forward with implementation of the Paris Agreement goals, with California Governor Jerry Brown going so far as to sign an agreement between his state and China on reducing emissions.
  • August:

    • The Department of Energy released a comprehensive report on the reliability and resilience of the nation's electric grid and an overview of the evolution of energy markets. The study contains a series of recommendations from the department meant to inform and guide policymakers, regulators, and the public.
  • November:

    • The Department of Energy approved the Presidential permit for the proposed Northern Pass Transmission Line project, a 192-mile above and below ground, alternating and direct current transmission system that will deliver up to 1090 megawatts of low-emission hydropower from Quebec, Canada to Deerfield, New Hampshire. The project is estimated to provide more than $600 million in annual energy cost savings for New England customers.
  • January 2018:

    • Following months of speculation, on January 23, 2018, the Trump Administration issued a Proclamation announcing new tariffs on imported solar cells and modules (the "Solar Tariff") in response to the Section 201 petition brought by Suniva and SolarWorld Americas. The four-year Solar Tariff becomes effective on February 7, 2018, and will start at 30% in Year 1 and ramp down by 5% annually. The Solar Tariff exempts the first 2.5 GW of solar cells (not modules) imported each year. Although a tariff of any kind will impact some number of economically marginal projects, it is less clear how significantly the Solar Tariff will impact the U.S. solar market as a whole and whether those impacts will be felt equally across industry segments. Read this blog post by Mintz Levin's Eric Macaux for a comprehensive overview of the tariff and its projected impact.

Energy & Sustainability: Notable Deals and Financial Activities

Headlined by the sales of EnerNoc and Aclara, as well as SunEdison's bankruptcy, financial activities in the cleantech space varied widely this year. Here are a handful of highlights, with a concerted focus on companies with business ties to the United States:

  • January:

    • Demand Energy, a developer and operator of energy storage systems and software, was acquired by Italian utility Enel for an undisclosed amount.
  • March:

    • EDF Renewable Energy, a developer of large-scale wind and solar projects, announced the creation of Distributed Electricity and Storage, a new business unit to help the company make a foray into the distributed energy arena.
  • April:

    • LM Wind Power, a manufacturer of components for the wind turbine industry, was acquired by General Electric for $1.65 billion.
    • Ebonex, a manufacturer of a conductive ceramic battery designed for use in a range of commercial cleantech applications, was acquired by AquaMetals for $2.3 million.
  • May:

    • SolBright Renewable Energy, a provider of renewable energy design and development services, was acquired by Arkados Group for $15 million.
  • June:

    • EnerNoc, a Boston-based firm helping companies manage their energy use, was acquired by Italian energy company Enel for more than $300 million.
  • July:

    • SunEdison Inc., formerly the world's largest renewable energy firm, won approval for a final bankruptcy plan that will leave shareholders with nothing.
    • Verde Energy, a renewable energy supplier, was acquired by Spark Energy for $85.8 million.
    • Siemens and The AES Corporation announced their agreement to form a new global energy storage technology and services company under the name Fluence.
  • September:

    • Verengo Solar, a provider of residential solar power systems, was acquired by Crius Energy Trust for $11.9 million.
    • MP2 Energy LLC, an energy leader in demand response solutions, was acquired by Shell Energy North America.
    • In a transaction valued at $830 million, Itron announced its plans to acquire Silver Spring Networks, resulting in the merger of the country's two major smart meter and grid networking players.
  • October:

    • Inevit, a developer of rechargeable battery modules created to design power systems for electric vehicles, was acquired by SF Motors for $33 million.
  • November:

    • Calmac, a company that builds and manages the biggest ice-based energy storage systems in the United States, was acquired by Trane.
  • December:

    • Aclara Technologies LLC, a smart metering and utility software provider, entered into a definitive agreement to be sold to Hubbell Incorporated for $1.1 billion.
    • BP invested $200 million in Lightsource, Europe's biggest solar developer.
    • With Mintz Levin representing Greentech Capital as a financial advisor to the transaction, Brookfield Renewable Partners closed its acquisition of 100% of TerraForm Global for a total net investment of $750 million.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions