Client and Industry Challenges
The unique physical and operational characteristics of energy storage resources, specifically the ability to both deliver, store and receive energy on a timely basis presents a wealth of opportunities for industries around the world. For example, in the energy industry, in order to capture the benefits of this new technology, the federal government is expeditiously eliminating barriers to enable energy storage resources to participate in the national electric grid. Because of the intermittent nature of some renewable energy generation -- such as solar, wind and hydro power -- energy storage technologies provide an excellent source of backup power to maintain a steady supply of electricity to meet energy demands. Continued growth in and reliance on renewable energy generation is highly dependent upon having access to reliable energy storage in times when the sun is not shining, or the wind is not blowing. Moreover, energy storage is helping utility companies solve power transmission issues and provide other useful ancillary services (e.g., voltage support, spinning reserves and black start) to strengthen our power grid.
The transportation industry is also quickly recognizing the benefits of energy storage. Battery innovation is demanded by auto, truck, aviation and marine manufacturers who require higher energy-density batteries which are safer, have a longer range and charge faster. As the interest and reliance on energy storage increases, considerable attention is also focusing on important related issues associated with battery disposal, end-of-life recycling and second life uses. As a result, companies from many sectors are quickly investing in all stages of energy storage.
Clients We Serve
Snell & Wilmer represents emerging and large businesses in the energy storage field. Our clients include companies across the entire spectrum of the battery life cycle. These include inventors and manufacturers of commercial scale batteries; those who provide the essential raw materials; companies that make energy storage cells (of all different chemistries such as LiIon, Lead Acid, Zinc-air and lithium etc.); companies that assemble battery packs from those cells; battery cell and pack-testing companies; and OEMs that assemble the batteries into cars, airplanes, fixed storage. We also represent utilities and companies which own and operate these batteries in connection with alternative and traditional energy generation, transmission, grid management and fleet services. Our attorneys are actively engaged in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rulemakings and regional transmission organization stakeholder initiatives to remove barriers that would otherwise impede electric storage batteries from becoming an important component in the United States electric power industry’s transmission and distribution markets. In addition, we represent companies that are responsible for disposal, end-of-life recycling and second life uses for these batteries.
Why Clients Select Us
Snell & Wilmer's energy storage legal services span many different practices, including: intellectual property services which help clients obtain patents and protect their inventions and their trademarks; product liability defense and counseling; regulatory advice on how to comply with federal regulations (including OSHA, FERC and EPA) associated with commercial grade and stationary storage; the sale of energy and ancillary service in various regions; the manufacture, transportation and eventual disposal of the batteries. We also provide contractual advice related to battery warranties, conflict minerals and other aspects unique to energy storage.
Snell & Wilmer is a member of NAATBatt International, an energy storage trade association. John Platt, a partner in our Phoenix office, serves as the Secretary to the Board of NAATBatt. Our partners and associates participate in subcommittees within NAATBatt to help move the industry forward in all aspects, including making scientific breakthroughs, advocating appropriate regulation and standards, paving the way for a sustainable supply chain in North America to produce needed batteries, and helping businesses move the industry forward through networking and education. We regularly present workshops on battery intellectual property and other legal topics at the association's annual meetings. Our attorneys also attend large battery conferences including The Battery Show and International Battery.
Representative energy storage matters include:
- Patent prosecution in the areas of battery chemistry; cell manufacturing; battery pack manufacturing; thermal management; battery management systems; battery testing systems; battery state sensing and prediction; fuel cell patents; and for portable electronic devices, vehicles; equipment; and EoS energy storage systems incorporating these technologies
- Trademark protection for energy storage brands
- Conflict minerals legal advice
- Import/export legal advice
- Advising on energy storage safety regulations
- Product liability considerations associated with energy storage devices, and best practices when navigating emerging technology waters
- Helping clients work through environmental law and regulations for safely building, transporting and recycling batteries
- Representing clients in energy storage rulemaking before the FERC and advising clients on Regional Transmission Organization and Independent System Operator stakeholder initiatives that impact the viability of energy storage in their regions.
- Energy Storage Resource Issues Before the FERC:
- In November 2016, the FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) in which it recognized that the interstate energy market rules designed for traditional generation resources can create barriers to entry for emerging technologies such as electric energy storage resources. Our attorneys filed comments to this NOPR on behalf of clients that supported increased use of energy storage and were actively involved in the discussions that successfully resulted in the FERC issuance of Final Rule in Order No. 841. This Final Rule helps remove these barriers by requiring each regional grid operator to revise its tariff in order to establish a participation model for electric storage resources which consists of market rules that properly recognize the physical and operational characteristics of electric storage resources. The participation model established by each regional grid operator must ensure that an electric storage resource is eligible to provide all capacity, energy and ancillary services that it is capable of providing, that it can be dispatched, and that it can set the wholesale market clearing price as both a seller and buyer consistent with existing market rules. The model also must account for the physical and operational characteristics of electric storage resources through bidding parameters or other means, and it must set a minimum size requirement that does not exceed 100 kilowatts. The Final Rule also requires that the sale of electric energy from the wholesale electricity market to an electric storage resource, that the electric storage resource then resells back to those markets, must be at the wholesale locational marginal price. Our attorneys have also been involved in the stakeholder process in various regional transmission organizations and independent system operator regions (RTO & ISO) to monitor the implementation of the requirements of the Final Rule.