Jonathan Wright

Jonathan Wright is a member of the firm’s Energy Industry Group, and counsels industry clients on a diverse range of transactional and regulatory matters. Mr. Wright counsels developers, investors and lenders in the development and financing of energy infrastructure assets, as well as mergers and acquisitions, with a particular focus on renewable generation and battery storage facilities.

Mr. Wright also counsels clients on electric and natural gas matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where he previously served as an Attorney-Advisor in the Office of the General Counsel. He specializes in matters involving electric generation interconnection, wholesale electric market design and participation, mergers and acquisitions involving jurisdictional assets, and natural gas pipeline rate proposals.

On April 9, the Board of Trustees of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a climate action organization that has validated corporate decarbonization targets for more than 4,200 companies to-date, issued a statement announcing that environmental attribute certificates (EACs), including carbon credits generated by voluntary carbon projects, may be used to abate Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is possible to view the Board’s statement, unprecedented for SBTi, as recognition of the practical challenges associated with achieving Scope 3 emissions abatement without utilizing EACs. Yet, the statement also drew swift criticism from some stakeholders and observers, who argue that it represents a departure from SBTi’s science-based approach to corporate climate action. 

Following the criticism, on April 11, “the overwhelming majority” of SBTi’s staff, which felt “compelled to issue multiple clarifications” of the Board’s statement, published a remarkable public response.  Thereafter, on April 12, the Board supplemented its April 9 statement to clarify that no changes to the SBTi standards had been finalized. However, the Board’s statement and staff’s response show that interested stakeholders will have opportunities to provide SBTi with critical input regarding the use of EACs in Scope 3 emissions abatement that could have a material effect on any related revisions to the SBTi standards.  Continue Reading SBTi Board Announces Role for Carbon Credits in Scope 3 Emissions Abatement; Staff Clarifies Review Remains On-going

On February 12, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) announced that it will award up to $100 million to support U.S. pilot projects and testing facilities demonstrating and scaling carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies.  The funding will support projects and facilities that remove carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere and store it in geological, bio-based, or ocean reservoirs, or that convert the captured CO2 into value-added products.  The funding is intended to support the development of a commercially viable U.S. CDR industry, in advancement of the goal of DOE’s Carbon Negative Shot of reducing the cost of capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it at gigaton scales to less than $100 per net metric ton of CO2-equivalent by 2032.  The funding is a significant opportunity for developers and investors in CDR ventures that are prepared to deploy a pilot project in an area of interest for DOE.Continue Reading DOE Announces $100 Million in Funding to Accelerate Carbon Removal

As directed by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 (CAA) that was signed into law by President Biden on December 29, 2022, on October 23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the report on its general assessment of the state of the U.S. compliance and voluntary carbon markets for the agricultural and forestry sectors.  The report, titled Report to Congress: A General Assessment of the Role of Agriculture and Forestry in U.S. Carbon Markets (Report) provides a summary of the assessment’s findings with respect to the current supply and demand of agriculture and forestry carbon credits in the U.S., as well as the barriers to market entry faced by many agriculture and forestry landowners and operators.  The Report also highlights the role that USDA could play in reducing such barriers, notably through a potential GHG Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verification Program (Program).  As participants in the voluntary carbon market search for greater certainty regarding the integrity of carbon credits being bought or sold, the Program may become a unique and valued resource for potential project developers and carbon credit buyers.Continue Reading USDA Releases Carbon Markets Assessment, Setting Stage for Technical Assistance Program

On March 30, the Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets (ICVCM),  an independent governance body that aims to set and maintain a global standard for quality in the voluntary carbon market, announced the launch of its Core Carbon Principles. The Core Carbon Principles (CCPs) are intended to establish fundamental principles for high-quality carbon credits that create a verifiable climate impact, based on the latest science and best practice. On the same day, ICVCM also issued the Program-level Assessment Framework and the Assessment Procedures, both designed to assist carbon-crediting programs in verifying that such programs and the credits that they issue comply with the CCPs.  Given the role that ICVCM has assumed in recent discussions concerning integrity in the voluntary carbon market (VCM), the CCPs and related Program-level Assessment Framework and Assessment Procedures are likely to draw significant attention from stakeholders at all stages of the VCM-supply chain. Continue Reading ICVCM Launches Core Carbon Principles for Voluntary Carbon Market

On July 27, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the release of the state’s third competitive offshore wind solicitation (RFP), seeking to procure a minimum of 2,000 megawatts (MW) of new offshore wind generation capacity, as well as significant capital investment in New York’s bourgeoning offshore wind energy supply chain.  New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019 established the goal of developing 9,000 MW of offshore wind capacity, the largest statutory goal to-date of any state in the country, by 2035.  Combined with the 4,300 MW of offshore wind generation capacity procured through its prior two solicitations, the RFP will put the state more than two-thirds of the way towards reaching that target. Continue Reading New York Remains Offshore Wind Pacesetter with Third Solicitation

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) to reform its generator interconnection process. The proposed rules are intended to expedite the connection of new generator and storage facilities to the grid, and to clear out a burgeoning interconnection backlog, predominantly of renewable and storage resources.

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On June 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a decision in Environmental Defense Fund v. FERC vacating and remanding FERC’s order issuing a certificate of public convenience and necessity to Spire STL Pipeline LLC (“Spire STL”) under Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act.  The decision is a rare instance of the D.C. Circuit vacating a FERC certificate order upon finding that FERC’s determination regarding the market need for the proposed pipeline was arbitrary and capricious, and was not supported by the Commission’s Certificate Policy Statement. Thus, there is no clear precedent for how FERC may approach Spire STL’s application moving forward.  The D.C. Circuit’s decision also comes as FERC considers revising its Certificate Policy Statement, including the framework for determining need for a proposed project, after receiving over 100 comment filings from interested stakeholders in response to FERC’s February 18 Notice of Inquiry on certificate policy.
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Vacates FERC’s Spire STL Pipeline Certificate Order

On June 17, FERC took two actions intended to facilitate greater coordination with and between state regulators on electric transmission policy and development.  First, FERC issued an order establishing a Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission (Task Force), and soliciting nominations for state commission representation on the Task Force from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). According to FERC’s order, the Task Force will focus on topics related to efficiently and fairly planning and paying for transmission, including generator interconnection, that provide benefits from a federal and state perspective. If successful, the Task Force could play a critical role in re-designing FERC’s interstate transmission policy to better accommodate the state-policy-driven development of renewable energy generation facilities across the country.
Continue Reading FERC Establishes Unprecedented Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission, Issues Policy Statement on State Voluntary Agreements

On February 16, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order accepting an executed State Agreement Approach Study Agreement (Study Agreement) between PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (PJM) and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJ BPU), pursuant to which PJM will solicit project proposals to expand or upgrade its transmission system to provide for the deliverability of 7,500 MW of offshore wind into New Jersey by 2035.  New Jersey is the first state in the PJM region to use the State Agreement Approach, a supplementary transmission planning and cost allocation mechanism in PJM’s Operating Agreement designed to meet states’ public policy needs.
Continue Reading FERC Accepts Study Agreement to Assess New Jersey Offshore Wind Deliverability

On February 12, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued an order adopting two pilots to test two frameworks for procuring distributed energy resources (DERs) to avoid or defer utility distribution investments by the state’s three investor-owned utilities.  The first framework, coined as the Partnership Pilot by the CPUC, is a five-year pilot establishing a DER distribution deferral tariff with a tiered payment structure open to any DER customer type. The Standard-Offer-Contract Pilot, the second framework, is a three-year pilot that will offer standard offer contracts to in-front-of-the-meter DERs.  The adoption of these frameworks is a continuation of the CPUC’s effort to implement Public Utilities Code Section 769, which took effect in 2015 and requires the CPUC to, among other things, identify mechanisms for the cost-effective deployment of DERs that satisfy distribution planning objectives.
Continue Reading CPUC Adopts Pilots Aimed At Procuring DERs In Lieu of Grid Investment