Jonathan B. Wilson

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Jonathan Wilson is an Atlanta attorney with more than 19 years of experience guiding growing private and public companies.  He currently serves as the outside general counsel of several companies and is the former general counsel of (NASDAQ: WWWW) and EasyLink Services (NASDAQ: ESIC).  He is also the founding chair of the Renewable Energy Committee of the American Bar Association's Public Utility Section.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another Shoe Drops / Dodd Will Not Seek Reelection
Senator Christopher Dodd (D. Ct.) has announced a press conference at which he is expected to say that he will not seek reelection.  Dodd is one of several Democratic members of congress who were under pressure and facing sinking polls.  Dodd's decision not to seek reelection increases the number of Democratic seats at risk in the 2010 elections.
10:41 am est 

Trouble in Paradise
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D. Ca.) threw an elbow at the President yesterday in a rare public display of intraparty conflict. 

As Politico reported:

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, piqued with White House pressure to accept the Senate health reform bill, threw a rare rhetorical elbow at President Barack Obama Tuesday, questioning his commitment to his 2008 campaign promises. "

"A leadership aide said it was no accident. "

"Pelosi emerged from a meeting with her leadership team and committee chairs in the Capitol to face an aggressive throng of reporters who immediately hit her with C-SPAN’s request that she permit closed-door final talks on the bill to be televised. "

"A reporter reminded the San Francisco Democrat that in 2008, then-candidate Obama opined that all such negotiations be open to C-SPAN cameras."

"“There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail,” quipped Pelosi, who has no intention of making the deliberations public. "

"People familiar with Pelosi's thinking wasted little time in explaining precisely what she meant by a “number of things” – saying it reflected weeks of simmering tension on health care between two Democratic power players who have functioned largely in lock-step during Obama’s first year in office."

The incident should do nothing to quell the fears of Democrats who are looking at possible losses in the upcoming 2010 elections.  The President's approval ratings have been falling and Congress' approval rating is about as low as it ever has been.  One Democratic member of the House has switched parties and several other Democratic congressmen have announced that they won't be running for re-election. 

If Democrats take their internal squabbles public it will only fuel their fire of their discontent.
8:50 am est 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Landfill Methane Projects on the Move

Landfill methane projects are picking up steam, growing on the basis of the need for new sources of power and tax credits extended under the ARRA. 

This AP Article profiles a Waste Management operation in Altamont, California that generates 13,000 gallons per day of liquified natural gas (LNG) from landfill methane. 

The number of landfill methane projects in operation more than doubled over the past decade.

7:44 am est 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fuel Cell Prices Continue to Fall, Offering Potential to Energy Storage Solutions

The economics of fuel cells are improving each year, according to Pike Research, which forecasts that global revenues will more than double over the next few years, from $336m in 2009 to $716m in 2013, according to reports.

Pike Research’s analysis indicates that stationary fuel cells offer enormous long-term potential, offering a clean, efficient source of electricity and range in size from 1 kW up to 10 MW or more. With reformer technology, fuel cells are able to tap into established or accessible sources of fuels such as natural gas, and they can run off of various other fuels including biofuels and gases that are by-products of adjacent industrial processes. With cogeneration or combined heat and power, efficiencies improve dramatically from 40–50% up to as high as 85%.

However, cost issues make the technologies’ long-term potential difficult to predict. In order for costs to come down, volumes will have to increase. However, in order for volumes to materialize, costs will need to be reduced substantially. Without uniform government subsidy programs, it is unclear if or when that tipping point may occur. The estimated size of the fuel cell market in 2008 was 38 MW, and it is expected to grow to 219 MW by 2013, representing a CAGR% of 33%. This translates into a market with a dollar value of $242M in 2008 that will grow to nearly $716M by 2013, representing a CAGR% of 24%.

1:09 pm est 

Renewable Energy Around the Web: January 4, 2010

Renewable Energy Around the Web is a weekly compilation of renewable energy news and information published by our affiliate site, RenewableEnergyMemo.  

Top Ten Biofuels Predictions for 2010

Our friends at BiofuelsDigest have posted their predictions for the coming year:

#10 – Low Carbon Fuel Standards – Following California’s lead, BFD predicts that other states will also adopt low carbon fuel standards that will spur investment into renewable fuels.

#9 – Cellulosic Ethanol “Happens”- BFD predicts 102 million gallons of advanced biofuels capacity by the end of 2010 with 25 Mgy of it cellulosic ethanol at 17 facilities.

#8 – Aviation Biofuels Surge- 2009 say several successful tests of aviation biofuels.  Look for an increase in interest and investment in 2010.

#7 – Oil Companies Acquire Ethanol Capacity- BFD predicts that a major oil company will acquire 200-800 Mgy in ethanol capacity, at a discounted rate of $0.70 per gallon of capacity.

#6 – Green Chemicals and Plastics Boom – Look for big investments by ‘old’ economy chemical companies into biochemical and related lines of business.

#5 – Jatropha Revival – BFD predicts major investments in this once-maligned plant for use as a feedstock.

#4 – U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard – Congress will take up the renewable fuel banner and will extend targets into the future. 

#3 – Micrcrops / Algae- BFD predicts that Lemna, cyanobacteria and heterotrophic algae gain traction as microcrops begin transition from R&D to commercialization.

#2 – Green Ports / Marine Biofuels- Look for major deals involving marine biofuels.

#1 – Alternative Finance / REITS Move In – BFD predicts the formation of at least one $1B+ investment fund that will finance renewable energy on a build-leaseback basis.  BFD cites its earlier post on the need for project securitization to make project finance money available for biofules projects. 

Our take?  BFD’s ten predictions are an ambitious (and probably somewhat hopeful) look at the year ahead.  Some, like the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol and an interest in green chemical platforms by traditional chemical companies, seem to be the product of trends that were put into place over the past few years.  Others, like a revival of interest in Jatropha, are hard to visualize as we’re sitting here today. 

Still others, like a prediction that Congress will pace a renewable fuel standard, depend on political forces that are notoriously difficult to predict. 

If even half of these predictions come to pass, however, 2010 will bring a great deal of interest and focus to the renewable fuels sector.

And In Other News

Alternative Fuel Mixture Credit Expires
.     Congress failed to act, allowing the alternative fuel mixture credit to expire on December 31st.  My tax lawyer buddies tell me that an extender bill is likely in the coming month that will be retroactive, but with this Congress there can be no guarantees.

Environmentalists vs. The Environment
Another report of a large solar park planned in the Mojave Desert falling prey to environmental challenges that the site will endanger the desert tortoise.  Environmental challenges continue to make it difficult for large solar projects in the desert southwest to get permitted and get funded.

European Supergrid
– Energy planners in Europe, meanwhile, are pondering the merits of a ’supergrid’ that would interconnect the electrical grids of participating states in Europe.  Carrying a price tag of nearly $30B Euros, the supergrid would link “turbines off the wind-lashed north coast of Scotland with Germany’s vast arrays of solar panels, and join the power of waves crashing on to the Belgian and Danish coasts with the hydro-electric dams nestled in Norway’s fjords.” 

(Passing interest – If you follow the link to the supergrid story, check out the picture of the solar park in Schleswig-Holstein Germay.  The park is so far north that the solar panels are point almost perpendicular to the ground in order to see the sun. )

8:15 am est 

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Jonathan B. Wilson is an Atlanta attorney at the law firm of Taylor English Duma LLP.  Jonathan B. Wilson provides legal advice to investors, companies and business executives involving corporate law, securities law, SEC matters, intellectual property, website and Internet legal issues, start-ups, limited liability companies, partnerships, 1934 Act matters, outsourcing, strategic alliance agreements, contracts, and other matters of importance to growing private and publicly-traded companies.