RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY – INSURANCE OPTIMIZATION AMIDST NEW TAX LAWS | PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS WHILE REDUCING INSURANCE PREMIUMS

In a recently published article, the Wall Street Journal looked at how new tax laws could impact 15 major industries in the United States, including Renewable Energy.

It is believed that the proposal in the House tax bill would reduce or sunset federal tax credits for wind and solar projects. This counters the push by industry trade groups such as The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) to protect the existing tax credit.

AWEA further reports that if the new tax code were to retroactively change how businesses can qualify for wind energy credits, one of several results might be the termination of construction contracts already signed.

Renewable Energy Companies have much to lose financially and also open themselves up to multiple layers of risk if this happens. Broken contracts would result in lawsuits and terminating employees could lead to wrongful termination claims. While these may pale in comparison to the overall business risk posed by lost tax credits, energy companies planning on trying to persevere through tough times can better protect themselves while taking action to reduce one major expense, insurance.

Through proactive revenue and payroll audits, a skilled Renewable Energy Insurance Broker can negotiate premium reductions. Adding lines of coverage such as Employers Practice Liability (EPL) can protect employers from wrongful termination claims. Ensuring proper Professional Liability (E&O/D&O) coverage can also help to ensure insurance coverage will respond to suits brought by third parties who’s contracts were terminated. These are just a few areas to address in a company’s overall insurance program and there are many more.

Turning a blind eye to political and economic threats to the Renewable Energy Industry is not an option. Instead, work to identify potential areas of risk and how you will address them to limit or remove the threat all together.

Those of us who have been in the industry know the unique challenges we face and how best to address them. If you are unsure on how your policies will respond or not confident in your overall risk management strategy, seek the help of a Certified Risk Manager.

For more information on how to obtain coverage from a renewable energy specific carrier, please contact the renewable energy risk managers at RenewableGuard.com

This article was published by Michael Cosgrave, CRM, CIC.  Michael is a Certified Risk Manager for the Renewable Energy Industry and manages the insurance services offered through RenewableGuard. Michael is also the nationally endorsed insurance broker for a highly effective and encompassing multi-line renewable energy industry coverage program.

A RENEWABLE ENERGY BALANCE OF POWER: DEVELOPERS AND NOT THEIR CONTRACTOR SHOULD INSURE ENERGY PROJECTS

RENEWABLE ENERGY RISK MANAGER MICHAEL COSGRAVE AND ENERGY CONSULTANT SAM JENSEN TEAM UP TO EXPLAIN WHY RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPERS AND NOT THEIR EPC CONTRACTOR NEED TO OWN THE BUILDERS RISK INSURANCE POLICY ON THEIR PROJECTS

Who should control the insurance when constructing your next renewable energy project? Recently, the insurance risk managers here at RenewableGuard teamed up with the consultancy firm Traxler & Tong and their Managing Director of Renewable Energy Sam Jensen, to help answer this question. Who better to ask? Since 2007, Sam and his team have provided independent due diligence consultation on more than 700 renewable energy transactions from large and small residential to large and small utility scale projects to include a mix of solar, wind power, fuel cell, hydro, biomass and geothermal projects.

Through an analysis of policy forms, prior claims and general observations of hundreds of transactions, we compiled a list of reasons why it is almost ALWAYS best for a Developer to control the insurance for their projects.

The question comes up more often than you’d think, and many developers are unknowingly taking on additional risk by having their Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor obtain the insurance.  Let’s use an example to help make this point.

Project – 60MWdc Utility Scale Ground Mount Solar Project in the United States

Insurance Considerations –

  •        Builders Risk/Property Policy approximately $60M.
  •        Business Income/Revenue Coverage of $4M
  •        Delay in Start Up
  •        General Liability of $1M per occurrence
  •        Umbrella Liability of $5M per occurrence

List of Issues – If the EPC contractor procures the insurance during the construction phase, listing the EPC as the primary named insured and their developer/project owner as the additional insured on their policy:

  1. Lost Delay in Startup Project Revenues – Contractors and subcontractors have no insurable interest in the Project revenue, which lenders will require the insured to buy through Delay in Start Insurance. Annual revenues on a project of this size might range between $3.5M – $4M. A delay of 3 months could equate to a loss of $900K that would most often not be insured under the EPC’s policy.
  2. Lack of Project Specific Limits – How broad is the policy language from your EPC’s carrier?  By controlling their own insurance, the Developer removes this question all together. They can obtain broadened coverage with sub limits for items like earthquake and flood tailored to a specific project and the risk concerns of the Developer.
  3. Claims from Other Project – More often than not, coverage limits earmarked for your project are shared with ALL the other projects the contractor is completing construction on. Contractors may have policy aggregates which could be eroded by losses on other projects and ultimately limit their insurer from making claims payments on a specific project.
  4. Added EPC Mark Ups – Going direct to purchase your own insurance reduces the likelihood of insurance costs mark ups by the contractor.
  5. Policy Transition for Construction to Operational – Avoid grey areas from a claims perspective that could arise when transferring to an Operational All Risks policy for losses that are related to issues arising from the course of construction and/or maintenance period.
  6. Build your Carrier Relationship: Going direct builds an early relationship for the Owner with their preferred carrier, which can be leveraged on long term operational costs as well as other projects. We have seen carriers make pricing concession of 20% or more for their preferred insureds.
  7. Claim Pay-outs – Greater control by the owner in receiving money from insurers following a claim.
  8. Coverage for your EPC – Contractors/ subcontractors are still named in the policy as additional insureds so they are not put in a disadvantaged position.

As you can see, there are many reasons why it makes sense for the Owner/Developer of a project to also own their insurance. Sam offers some final advice to the developers of these renewable energy projects when working through control of their insurance:

“Placing Builders Risk under a developer controlled program often leads to broader coverage more tailored to the risks of the developer and their financing parties. The trend of having the developer place the course of construction and operational phase property insurance helps to eliminate the risk in lapse of coverage between substantial completion and placed in service dates while cutting down an administrative work and possibility of human error”

Conclusion:

Not all carriers offer the broad coverage afforded by renewable energy specific insurance carriers. As a renewable energy insurance broker, RenewableGuard places all coverage with unique renewable energy industry specific markets. It is always advisable that if insureds are seeking to start or grow their renewable energy business, it’s best to partner with a carrier AND insurance broker who understand the unique exposures associated with renewable energy.

For more information on how to obtain coverage from a renewable energy specific carrier, please contact the renewable energy risk managers at RenewableGuard.com

This article was published by Michael Cosgrave, CRM, CIC and Sam Jensen, Managing Director of Renewable Energy at Traxler & Tong.

Michael is a Certified Risk Manager for the Renewable Energy Industry and manages the insurance services offered through RenewableGuard. Michael is also the nationally endorsed insurance broker for a highly effective and encompassing multi-line renewable energy industry coverage program

Sam is a Renewable Energy consultant with professional expertise in insurance / risk management for Lenders, Developers, Investors. Focusing in renewable energy.

RenewableGuard.com – A Roof Decision | Why Solar Developers Should Buy a SEPARATE Insurance Policy for Roof Mounted Solar

Own a building and adding solar? Or, your building owner wants to simply add your solar array to their building’s insurance? Don’t do it and here is why…

SCENARIO: There is common ownership of the building and the roof mounted solar being installed or already installed. Should I just add the solar array to my building’s existing P&C policy?

RISK MANAGER’S RECOMMENDATION: While it is tempting and perhaps seemingly easier to simply add your roof mounted system to your existing building insurance P&C policy, there are many reason why this is NOT good risk management. I recently had a conversation with Christina Tom, VP at a reputable renewable energy insurance carrier. The following outlines our compiled list of reasons why a solar developer should purchase their own separate insurance policy. I have also included an outline of improved coverage unique to your solar insurance carrier that your building’s insurance carrier typically can’t match:

COVERAGE RATIONAL:

o   LEG II coverage:

  • The solar policy form covers consequential resultant damage resulting from faulty workmanship, design or defective part

o   Escalation Clause:

  • Solar policy property forms can cover 125% of the value stated on the Statement of Values  (SOV) in the event the gross profit or replacement value is more than what’s shown on the SOV.

o   Mechanical Breakdown:

  • Coverage for Mechanical or Electrical Breakdown. Some P&C Carriers exclude this peril from their policy form.

o   Loss of Revenue:

  • The solar carrier can cover loss of income resulting from interruption from construction or while in operation.
  • The solar carrier can also cover Contingent Business Interruption in the event a non-owned substation, electrical distribution line or transmission facility is damaged. Contingent Business Income can also be provided if your off-taker in a Power Purchase Agreement is destroyed by a fire and does not need electricity while being rebuilt.

o   Definition of Property:

  • Unlike most generic property policies, a solar carrier’s definition of “Property” has been tailored to specifically meet their insureds’ solar needs. The property definition is a broad and comprehensive definition to encompass all components of a solar project.

o   Construction, Operational, Liability (Umbrella & GL):

  • The solar carrier can cover the insured’s solar projects while under construction and in operation. This is a seamless approach that covers the panels from beginning to end. In addition to property coverage, the carrier is able to offer GL and Umbrella options to complete the package.

o   Additional Coverages:

  • Leased Equipment Rental costs
  • Offsite Property
  • Pollutant Cleanup & Removal
  • Transit
  • Debris Removal
  • Accounts Costs / Professional Services / Legal Costs
  • Local Authorities Clause
  • Newly Acquired
  • Architects, Surveyors
  • Demolition and Increased Cost of Construction
  • Expediting Expenses
  • Documents and Computer Records

CLAIMS HANDLING RATIONAL: Renewable energy is a solar carrier’s niche. Their claims adjusters are experts in the industry and know how to handle the specific nuances of renewable energy claims. Most P&C claims adjusters do not have the expertise or experience in adjusting solar claims, leaving the insured anxiously waiting for payment.

PRICING RATIONAL: The property rate provided by some of these unique renewable energy carriers is often times 10% – 20% more competitive than rates offered through traditional property and real estate carriers. This becomes increasingly accurate when putting together larger, growing schedules of locations.

SELECTING THE RIGHT BROKER: Working with not just any insurance broker, but specifically a renewable energy broker is extremely important for growing renewable energy business. These brokers understand which markets are renewable energy specific carriers with the capability to provide the unique coverage outlined above. These brokers also likely already have the best relationships with the specialty markets due to the high level of aggregated premium they’ve placed with the carrier already. Lastly, knowing the right markets and understanding the renewable energy business allows the renewable energy broker to better present an account to their carriers. The results are optimized coverage and pricing.

CONCLUSION: Bottom line, insureds seeking to start or grow their renewable energy business need to partner with a carrier AND insurance broker who understand the unique exposures associated with renewable energy.

For more information on how to obtain coverage from a renewable energy specific carrier, please contact the renewable energy risk managers at RenewableGuard.com

This article was published by Michael Cosgrave, CRM, CIC. Michael is a Certified Risk Manager for the Renewable Energy Industry and manages the insurance services offered through RenewableGuard. Michael is also the nationally endorsed insurance broker for a highly effective and encompassing multi-line renewable energy industry coverage program.

Measure Twice – A Free Software Tool to Measure Natural Disaster Exposures on Renewable Energy Facilities

Let the Risk Managers at RenewableGuard help you reduce your risk and insurance premiums by leveraging a free software tool that provides loss potential data of natural hazards occurring anywhere in the world

Renewable energy companies spend billions of dollars each year on the development and operation of high tech energy producing facilities. Beyond the actual hard costs to build, there are insurance soft costs that can vary significantly simply because of the facility’s physical location. Bottom line, projects that are built in areas that have a higher likelihood of being damaged or destroyed due to a natural hazard (earthquakes, hurricanes etc), pay much higher insurance premiums than those built in safer regions. Unknowingly, renewable energy companies may be taking on more risk than they’d like. Now there is a free software tool that can help these companies analyze and asses just how exposed they are, allowing for better business decision making and overall risk management.

Here is the link to a software tool offered by Munich RE, an international insurance company. Per Munich RE, the added value for businesses lies in combining their own risk data with their exposure levels to natural hazards. We at RenewableGuard couldn’t agree more and we often use this data to help renewable energy businesses analyze their own exposure and how exposures also impact their insurance costs.

Here is an example of how insurance premiums would be impacted by natural hazards on a $200M utility scale solar project near an earthquake fault zone:

The property rate on a $200M project in the US with low exposures might be 0.1% of the sum insured, or $200,000. But if that location is also near an earthquake fault line, lenders will push the developer to also purchase a sub limit of earthquake coverage. This is where things get costly. If the insured were required to carry a $40M sub limit for earthquake on the $200M project, their insurance premiums for property coverage would almost double! The insurance rate for earthquake coverage might be 0.4% of the $40M sub limit. Do the math and this translates to an additional $160K of annual insurance premiums for a grand total of $360K in premium!

Soft costs like insurance premiums cut directly into the returns on these projects. Exposures like earthquake, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding all impact insurance premiums. When developing your next project or assessing your existing portfolio, we invite you to have RenewableGuard review your data from Munich RE’s software tool and provide recommendations on how to reduce your risk and overall insurance costs. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what exposures impact your facility prior to breaking ground on your next project? Try the link out today and see just how risky your next project really is, you might be surprised.

This article was published by Michael Cosgrave, CRM, CIC. Michael is a Certified Risk Manager for the Renewable Energy Industry, manages the insurance services offered through RenewableGuard and is the nationally endorsed insurance broker for a highly effective and encompassing multi-line renewable energy industry coverage program

RenewableGuard: Trump Tower vs. The Eiffle Tower

The Paris Climate Agreement shows us how Political Risk can impact the Renewable Energy Industry, while also shedding light on the need for increased private financing. Bill Gates and his Breakthrough Energy Fund shows us just how to get that done…

http://Bill Gates Launches $1 Billion Breakthrough Energy Investment Fund

RenewableGuard.com, Certified Renewable Energy Risk Managers providing insight and expertise on how best to protect Renewable Energy Business in a world with dynamic and ever changing risks. RenewableGuard.com provides these businesses with the ability to roll incumbent insurance policies into a unique insurance product that insures all lines of coverage. Work with experts who understand your business and the industry’s risks: Property | Bonding | General Liability | Builders Risk | WC

Contact us if you are an Energy Developer, EPC Contractor, or O&M provider…you may be eligible to Activate RenewableGuard’s unique coverage for your business

THE EPA MEETS THE ITC – WHERE ACRONYMS COLLIDE

THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) HAS A NEW CHIEF AND THERE IS GROWING SPECULATION ON WHAT THAT MIGHT MEAN FOR THE RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY & ITS FEDERAL INVESTMENT TAX CREDITS (ITC) – HERE'S A LOOK AT MANAGING POLITICAL RISK

In an article I wrote almost a year ago titled “Finding the Balance: Growth vs Risk”, I outlined how renewable energy companies could address operational risk associated with the rapid growth that was expected in response to valuable industry investment tax credits Congress had just extended. At the time, Bloomberg New Energy Finance was projecting the net result of these tax credits to be 37 gigawatts of new wind and solar capacity. This would translate to a 56 % boost to the industry over five years, quantified by a $73 billion surge in new investment and enabling as many as 8 million more households to access clean, renewable, affordable energy.

Well, there have been a lot of changes to our executive branch and government agency heads since then and many are interested to see what that might mean for the Renewable Energy industry. If you ask the new EPA head Scott Pruitt, he doesn’t seem to think that a changing of the guard makes much difference. In a quote from the Wall Street Journal (illustration: Ken Fallin), Mr. Pruitt states “There is no reason why the EPA’s role should ebb or flow based on a particular administration, or a particular administrator. Agencies exist to administer the law. Congress passes statutes, and those statutes are very clear on the job EPA has to do. We’re going to do that job.”

The success of these ITCs has given the new administration strong reason to simply administer the status quo. Fortune published an article just last month reporting the Renewable Energy Industry is creating jobs, “12 times faster than the rest of the US economy”.  It is estimated that the industry now represents 4-4.5 million jobs in the U.S., up from 3.4 million in 2011. Furthermore, due to the on-site nature of many renewable energy jobs, these jobs cannot be outsourced and can pay above average wages. Such U.S. based job growth is in line with the goals of the new administration.

SO, WHAT’S THE RISK?

Despite all the positive growth, there are still threats to the industry. Policy changes in the tax code could eliminate or reduce investment tax credits. Renewed focus on increasing jobs and production in more traditional areas of energy like coal and fossil fuels could have an inverse impact on renewables.

Renewable Energy Developers and other segments of the industry benefiting from policies of the prior administration would be wise to mitigate the risks to their operations by taking the following steps:

Identify

What are your exposures? In this instance, the risk is mostly political. Identify the policies and laws which you now benefit from.

Analyze

Conduct both a Qualitative (The What) and Quantitative (The How Much) analysis of the exposures. To what extent financially are you benefiting from these current policies and how would you be impacted if tax credits were reduced or went away. We already know the ITC falls to 10% in 2020. So even if nothing changes with the current laws, what impact would the planned reduction in ITCs have on your business?

Control

Take conscious action to avoid/prevent/reduce/segregate and transfer risk. Are there states that are greater proponents of renewable energy? If you are concerned over Federal laws, perhaps their state laws that might better insulate your business model. Stratify operations across multiple projects in multiple states as a hedge against negative outside policy decisions. Maybe you need to consider expanding operations and development to other countries that have strong incentives for renewable energy as well. If the concern is over financing for new development opportunities, perhaps focus on diversifying your revenue stream by building out an O&M operation and capitalize on projects that are already built.

Finance

Should a loss to your business occur, consider your financial options. Are there external funds available to cover losses? Political Risk Insurance coverage already exists and can be purchased to protect your operations in foreign countries. This type of insurance covers loss from revolution or other political conditions that could result in a financial loss to your business. U.S. based companies are constantly expanding coverage and developing new endorsements to protect loss of business income from a wide range of factors: solar shortfall, contingent BI from loss of an off-taker, even ITC protection exists. Know your options. Find an insurance broker familiar with your industry and its innovative carrier options.

Administration

Once you have identified the risks and implemented strategies to address them, implement a desired risk management plan and monitor your results. Your risk management program should involve members of your risk management team: legal, finance, insurance, and HR (due to risk to employees). Your plan’s goal is to address and monitor the exposures you identify in Step 1.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM COVERED?

The risks outlined above are just a few of the risks that are incumbent upon developers to plan for when considering investment in renewable energy projects in the United States. Particularly when you consider that the U.S.’s elected officials and the political views that come with them are always changing. If you are uncertain about how your policy will respond, your coverage, or are not comfortable with your overall insurance and risk management strategy, you may want to consult with a renewable energy industry risk manager.

PARDON THE INTERRUPTION

NO POWER? NO INCOME? NO PROBLEM. HOW TO GET PAID BY YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY WHEN YOU'RE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT GOES UP IN FLAMES!

California is home to some of the world’s most notable renewable energy companies and projects. It’s also become a state prone to substantial wildfires due to recent droughts. With the fire season coming to an end, we are reminded of the dangers natural disaster pose to our renewable energy projects and infrastructure. You need only look back to the summer of 2015 when The Valley Fire in Sonoma and Lake counties laid waste to 1,900 structures and left more than 3,000 Northern Californian residents homeless.

It’s also worth mentioning that one of the most notable commercial structures suffering significant damage in this fire was Calpine’s geothermal plant. While initial estimates reported repairs to infrastructure would cost close to $35MM, little mention was made of the lost income due to having to operate at three-quarters of its normal energy output during lengthy repairs. To put that into numbers, Calpine was contributing 725 MW to the electricity grid prior to the disaster. New production was reduced to 540 MW after the fire causing income losses to the company that were in addition to the $35MM needed to repair property.

TAX CREDITS ARE INCREASING THE NUMBER OF UTILITY SCALE PROJECTS LIKE CALPINE’S

As noted in my article from March 8, 2016 titled “Finding the Balance”, the extension by congress of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) tax incentives is projected to result in $73B of new investment pouring into the renewable energy industry over the next several years. Similar sized projects to Calpine’s Northern CA plant are becoming more abundant. Like many utility scale projects, the investment tax credits will likely be leveraged to help finance the deal. However, there is an inherent risk with how the credit vests. These credits carry with them a 5 year vesting schedule in most instances, with 20% of the credit vesting each year for the first 5 years. The plant must also produce energy output at a certain level to fulfill the tax credit requirement.

SO, WHAT’S THE RISK?

If a plant were to burn to the ground due to a wildfire, equipment failure, cyber-attack, or be destroyed by some other method, the project’s investors would not meet the production requirements and the government would “claw-back” the issued tax credit dollars. This claw-back would be significant, as the $ amount often attributes to 30% of the project’s overall development financing.

HOW CAN INSURANCE HELP?

A small handful of carriers have worked to develop cutting edge insurance products to meet the needs of emerging risks associated with the Renewable Energy Industry. Coverage now addressed:

  • Loss of tax credits that would have been earned or incurred
  •  Actual loss of income (net profit or loss before income taxes), including income from renting or leasing your covered property to others
  • Continuing normal operating expenses, including payroll
  • Other financial incentives listed and described in your insurance policy schedule
  • “Green” soft cost expenses – Coverage for soft costs such as engineers, architects and administrative fees needed to apply for green certification, incurred because of a covered loss to covered property
  • Extended lost income coverage from 12 – 36 months. Particularly important for roof mounted projects where the building may take longer to rebuild.
  • Solar-Shortfall coverage to replace lost income in the event the sun does not shine at predicted levels.

RENEWABLES IN RIO – RISKY BUSINESS?

THE OLYMPICS ARE DRAWING ATTENTION TO RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH ADVANCING RENEWABLE ENERGY SUPPLY IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

The 2016 summer Olympics are just getting under way in Brazil with what the country promised to be the “greenest games” ever, but a closer look at the countries politics/economy/security is also uncovering the risks inherent with renewable energy advancement in developing countries worldwide.

When Brazil won it’s bid in 2009 to host the 2016 Olympics, the country pledged to make these games the greenest games ever, even more so than the 2012 London games.  The pledge seemed attainable given the fact that Brazil currently uses renewable energy to make about 85 percent of its electricity.  That number is impressive not just for a developing country, but any country.  By contrast, the United States generates only 13 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

As far as the country goes as a whole, there is clearly strong support in Brazil for renewable energy development from its government.  In 2002 the government created the Program for Incentive of Alternative Electric Energy Sources (Proinfa) which has helped the country’s wind energy production grow from 22 MW in 2003 to 602 MW in 2009.  45 additional projects have been approved, so the commitment to renewable energy remains high.

HIGH DIVE DEEPER AND YOU’LL SEE THERE’S RISKS IN RIO

One doesn’t need to look far to see that a prime venue at the Rio Olympics, Guanabara Bay where sailing competitions will be held, is so polluted that countries are debating holding their athletes out of the events due to health concerns.  Walk the streets beyond the tourist lined beaches and you’ll begin to see poor neighborhoods in unsanitary and unhealthy conditions.  The country as a whole has shown many signs in recent years which might make outside investors nervous about diving into the Brazilian energy game.  Most notably, President Roussef was recently forced to step down, highlighting political turmoil and uncertainty.  The economy is no better off, with the deficit widening by -10.3% of GDP in 2015 (vs. 5.5% in 2014).  As noted by Euler Hermes, Brazil’s overall increasing protectionism, excessive bureaucracy, high labor costs and a complex and punitive tax system greatly hinders the national business environment and hurts the country’s overall competitiveness.  Yes, there is opportunity, but developers must understand what the dangers are in these less stable countries.

DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: WHAT ARE THE RISKS AND WHAT ABOUT MY INSURANCE?

Companies and Investors looking to pursue renewable energy projects in developing countries should be mindful of the following risks and realize there is an opportunity to transfer a good deal of that risk to the insurance companies:

GEO-POLITICAL RISK

Risk of regime changes during your Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) term, changing laws, or expropriation of projects.

  • Political Risk Insurance – Coverage includes Expropriation/Political Violence/Currency Inconvertibility. Policy is written transaction-by-transaction to address the risks arising from political events where insured does business.  Often up to 15-year policy term.
LEGAL RISK

Risk of lack of predictability and transparency during a business transaction due to absence of general rule of law. Bribes to judges and political officials may be the norm.

  • Review you Insurance Policy’s Coverage Territory – Review the terms of your contracts and add wording which allows you to bring suits/claims back to the United States.
  • Established Well Oiled Legal Team – In-House counsel should oversee the company’s legal risk management on a day to day and be involved when assessing the risks associated with a potential foreign investment.
KIDNAP AND RANSOM

The risk to your employees due to the inherent dangers of doing business in developing countries.

  • Kidnap and Ransom Insurance – Provides coverage for payment, repatriation, extortion, and security. Coverage can be purchased internationally.
TERRORISM

The risk to your assets and people due to terrorist activities or political violence.

  • Terrorism Insurance – Provides property and liability coverage for terrorist attacks, including: nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological. Sabotage coverage included.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM COVERED?

The risks outlined above are just a few of the risks that are incumbent upon developers to understand when considering investment in renewable energy projects overseas.  There is no question that governments both in 1st world and developing countries are providing incentives like never before to go green.  However, companies looking to benefit from this energy renaissance should be mindful of the risks.  If you are uncertain about how your policy will respond, your coverage, or are not comfortable with your overall insurance program, you may want to consult with a renewable energy insurance specialist.

WHO TURNED OFF THE LIGHTS?

HOW CYBER ATTACKS HAVE FORCED ENERGY COMPANIES & GOVERNMENTS TO MANAGE NEW RISK

It was a cold day December 23, 2015 in Kiev and it got a lot colder when hackers attacked the energy grid in western Ukraine.  After shutting down substations, the hackers proceeded to jam the power company’s customer service phone lines to delay the outage from being reported.  Ukrainian officials were eventually able to get the lights back, but it required them to manually reset circuit breakers at each station.

This internationally recognized incident brings light to a growing concern among energy companies and governments alike.  As the energy sector has become quick to embrace new internet-connected Industrial Control Systems (ICS), the ability for hackers to exploit and attack energy infrastructure is no longer science fiction, but rather a very concerning reality.

Here is the good.  ICS technologies have been at the heart of reducing costs, improving efficiency, and streamlining operations.  With razor thin margins in renewable energy particularly, companies are constantly battling operation costs in an effort to make clean energy affordable an attractive to both the commercial and residential consumer.  New technology based control systems have helped this effort.

The bad?  Reuters reports that in the U.S. alone, over 40% of attacks on infrastructure are now aimed at its energy grid and that the total global spend to defend against these types of attacks is expected to balloon $1.87B by 2018.  The same technologies that have helped modernize energy production and deployment are unfortunately experiencing a nasty financial byproduct that doesn’t look to be going away anytime soon.  With the expectation of consistent energy incumbent upon these energy companies, their reputation for supplying reliable is now in jeopardy.  A growing global population that is increasingly dependent upon energy supply will not be all too willing to forgive and forget a company that allows the lights to go out.  In business, recovering from a tarnished brand can be a significant challenge.

Is reputation the only risk from these attacks?  The answer, a resounding no.  The cost can go well beyond a company’s reputation.  It’s conceivable that a hacker could overload certain systems, causing a violent explosion.  Most energy companies turning to their insurance company to recover these types of losses would be shocked to learn that they have NO COVERAGE for damage caused by a cyber-attack.

SO, WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR INSURANCE POLICY AND ITS CYBER LIABILITY COVERAGE GAP?

Since the financial impact is so hard to measure as a result of cyber-attacks, many insurers have been unable or unwilling to provide a compelling premium for their insured to pay in order to transfer the risk.  Instead, they have added a clause to their policy form (such as the Institute Cyber Attack Exclusion Clause CL380 in the UK) excluding property damage, bodily injury and loss of business income from software, virus or other malicious computer code.

For those companies that see “cyber liability” itemized on their insurance policy forms, read the fine print.  While many of the cyber liability insurance policies that exist today cover minor things such as data loss or downtime caused by IT issues, major events like explosions at multiple facilities triggered remotely by hackers are excluded.

Yes, there are pitfalls within many of these insurance policies and clearly the threat of cyber-attacks is real.  However, despite these challenges, technology must continue advancing to keep our energy infrastructure moving forward.  The electronic interconnectedness of our energy systems is a major advancement towards the universal sustainability of clean energy.

In response to these challenges, energy companies engaged in the use of advanced software and technology to operate their systems should simultaneously be looking to partner with insurance brokers and carriers specializing in Energy Risk Management.  These brokers and their team of underwriters are trained to identified gaps in your coverage and have access to unique insurance solutions that will respond.  Today, several carriers now exist who can offer coverage for gaps in cyber liability exclusions.  If you are not confident in your incumbent insurance program or sense there may be deficiencies, then it may be time to work with someone who can help.

FINDING THE BALANCE: GROWTH VS RISK

CONGRESS GREEN LIGHTS RENEWABLE ENERGY TAX CREDITS: $73 BILLION EXPECTED TO SURGE INTO THE INDUSTRY BUT WITH IT COMES RISK

In early December, 2015, Congress made an impact decision to extend valuable tax credits to the Renewable Energy Industry, with arguably the most significant benefit tied to Wind (Production Tax Credit) and Solar (Investment Tax Credit). Bloomberg New Energy Finance, projects the net result of these tax credits to be 37 gigawatts of new wind and solar capacity.  This would translate to a 56 % boost to the industry over five years, quantified by a $73 billion surge in new investment and enabling as many as 8 million more households to access clean, renewable, affordable energy.   Instant reaction to the news could be seen in the value of stocks aligned to the market.  SolarCity (SCTY), TerraForm Power (TERP), and SunEdison (SUNE) were just a few to jump in valuation almost overnight.  They have since come back down to earth, but the extension of these credits fill a void of uncertainty and doubt that had sidelined a great deal of capital, until now.  However, there are concerns already voiced by industry executives that rapid growth will reduce the quality and performance of assets as pressure is applied to manufacture quickly and cheaply.

Will pressures to expedite production lead to poor quality in manufacturing?  What are the shortfalls in your equipment warranties?  How can investors and developers guarantee plant production?

THE ISSUE:

Fortified Scaling & Consistent Asset Performance.  How do you do it?  What are the costs and what are the internal and external tools a rapidly growing industry can use to scale while being economically risk adverse?  Risk cannot be avoided, but avoid the house of cards and instead build a strong business that is proactive in mitigating risk. Companies would do well to identify the areas that most impact the production, longevity, design and serviceability of their equipment.  Here are steps to strengthen your business and manage the risks to your assets.

THE ISSUE:

Identify

What are your exposures. They could be physical, such as soiling or spectral shifts in sunlight.  Weather and physical risks were touched upon in the first article of this series titled, “Location! Location! Location!”.  With your equipment, your risk is also contractual.  Shortfalls exist in many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) warranties.  Beyond gaps in the contract are also the longevity and solvency questions surrounding the company that provided the warranty in the first place!

Analyze

Conduct both a Qualitative (The What) and Quantitative (The How Much) analysis of the exposures. Analysis of your OEM warranties may uncover that they exclude defects caused by failing to properly maintain the product, limit liability for damages and include disclaimers for implied warranties.  A warranty from a foreign manufacturer also may be difficult to enforce if that company’s provisions are governed by laws and regulations of their home country.  What would be the impact to your business if these shortfalls came to fruition.  How much would your bottom line be effected?

Control

Take conscious action to avoid/prevent/reduce/segregate and transfer risk. While there are insurance products to address the gaps in your warranties, there is an added financial cost to having that be your ONLY control strategy.  Avoid buying warranties from companies with poor financial strength to begin with.  Prevent the need to file claims by investing in your Operations & Maintenance teams, be it internal or 3rd  Consider segregating risk by working with different warranty providers and not just the same one for all your assets.

Finance

Should a loss occur, consider your financial options. With thin margins in the renewable energy industry, will it be more favorable to use internal funds or externally acquired funds to pay the loss.  Setting up reserves for anticipated losses in a year based on your analysis of loss history can help you budget for the unexpected.

Administration

Implement a desired risk management plan, then monitor its results. Establish a warranty and insurance policy management system.  Your risk management program should involve members of your risk management team: legal, finance, insurance, and HR (due to risk to employees).  Your plan’s goal is to address and monitor the exposures you identify in Step 1.

SO, HOW CAN INSURANCE HELP?

On February 24, 2016 The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) hosted a timely seminar on effective renewable energy asset management.  Executives from First Solar, Solarrus Corp, and Envision Energy each eluded to various areas of risk to the assets and production of their plants. Many agreed that quality of manufacturing is a big area of concern.

Innovative warranty programs and insurance products are working to fill the gaps on warranty coverage to reduce the risks associated with equipment quality.  These specialty programs transfer the fiscal responsibility for the warranties from the manufacturer to the insurance company, but only when warranty claims are valid.  These insurance solutions go beyond traditional warranty coverage to pay for costs associated with testing, de-installation, shipping and re-installation of covered equipment.  While there is a cost to insurance, long-term viability of your project is dependent upon asset preservation and limiting loss.

To satisfy lender and investor requirements a sound risk management program which includes insurance and specialized protection is critical.  If you are uncertain about how your warranties will respond, your coverage, or are not comfortable with your overall insurance program, you may want to consult with a renewable energy insurance specialist.