Seven Dimensions Signaling the Global Energy Transformation

April 20, 2018│ Author: Christiana Figueres, Convenor of Mission 2020 and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2010-2016).

The global community is currently facing an immense challenge – to ramp up climate action at such scale and speed that we are able to bend the curve of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.  While that may sound daunting, we must not be paralyzed: impossible is not a fact, it is an attitude, and our path to bending the curve will unlock cleaner air, cleaner water, better health and prosperity for all humanity. Decarbonization of the economy is not a burden, it is actually an incredible opportunity unique in history.

My confidence that we will succeed in bending the curve of emissions is largely based on evidence of the transformation that is underway in the energy sector, and the fact that most of it is exponential.

There are seven dimensions that signal this transformation:

1. Renewable energies are completely disrupting the energy sector as technology costs have fallen to near parity with traditional sources, and continue to fall. The characteristics of renewables are already causing national energy systems to restructure themselves, and this will continue.

2. The devaluing of incumbent fuels is happening at an unprecedented pace. The Executive Director of the International Energy Agency recently noted that renewables are rapidly eroding the dominance of the coal-fired power industry that took 80 years to build.

3. We are bearing witness to the dematerialization of fuels. Over the last century, we dug up coal, gas and oil and transported them across great distances and borders, but sun and wind do not have a material substance you have to process or burn. We’ve seen similar rapid dematerialization in other parts of the economy, where, for example, the iPhone has done away with our need for separate cameras, recorders, GPS systems, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and music on vinyl, tape or CD.

4. Similarly, we are seeing the decentralization of energy generation. We are no longer going to rely on only huge power plants and their long transmission lines. We now have the capacity to have tiny solar modules installed almost anywhere. Very soon it will be possible for a single building to be energy independent, for a city to be energy independent.

5. With this comes the democratization of access to energy. If there is something that is unforgiveable in the year 2018, it is that 1.3 billion people still do not have access to electricity. Fortunately, renewable energy has the capacity to change this reality by shifting generation to the individual village or home. Access to energy forms the basis of economic growth – it’s about time we step up to that challenge.

6. The combination of clean energy and digitalization that is now occurring is perhaps one of the most important components of the exponential nature of our current energy revolution. Digitization will allow two things to happen for the first time in history. We know that the decoupling of greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth has begun. Digitalization will enable another decoupling: because both energy generation and energy use will be so systemically efficient, we will decouple population growth from energy use. We will continue to see the population grow and we will continue to see economic growth, but the energy and GHG curves needed to support that growth will begin to go down. That is a concept that even five years ago would have been unthinkable, whereas today I see us already pursuing that important path.

7. Finally, renewable energy is going to disentangle. When I was a university student, I was taught that geopolitics is very closely linked to the presence of fossil fuels in the ground, and to the transportation routes of those fossil fuels. We know how many wars have been fought around fossil fuels, either because of fossil fuel fields or because of the transportation of the fuels. We are now moving toward a world where we will use the energy that is endemic to each country. This brings us closer toward true energy independence, which will massively change geopolitics and, I hope, lead to a more peaceful world.

These seven signals point to the most far-reaching, intentional, economic transformation that we have ever set ourselves to achieve.

Cities, states, businesses, investors and civil society the world over are already contributing to this exponential transformation. They will be gathering this September for the Global Climate Action Summit to show what they are doing to bring even more sources of clean energy online so that we can deliver healthy energy systems for everyone. It’s happening and you can be part of it!

#2020DontBeLate #GCAS2018 #StepUp2018.

About the Author

Christiana Figueres is the Convenor of Mission 2020 and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2010-2016).

Mission 2020 is a global initiative aiming to accelerate action on climate change so we can reach a turning point on GHG emissions by 2020. The evidence that a 2020 climate turning point is within our grasp is growing every day. For more information, please visit and read  2020: The Climate Turning Point.

TechLink: Tap into Innovation from Defense Department Laboratories

April 16, 2018 │ Authors: Yvonne Rudman, Industry Liaison, TechLink and Lynn Abramson, President Clean Energy Business Network, an initiative of the BCSE.

Are you a clean energy business interested in learning more about energy innovations coming out of the Department of Defense? If so, you should know about a free resource called TechLink.

What is TechLink?

TechLink is the Department of Defense’s national partnership intermediary. Its mission is to help businesses large and small access new technologies developed in DoD laboratories. And with about 120 DoD labs conducting research, there’s plenty of business opportunity.

How does TechLink work with businesses?

TechLink primarily helps businesses license patented DoD technologies for development into new products and services for commercial markets. Available technologies are listed in its online database, searchable by keyword or filtered by category, e.g., energy, sensors, or medical. When a business or entrepreneur finds a technology, TechLink provides it with no-cost licensing assistance. TechLink’s staff are also experienced in helping businesses conduct mutually beneficial research with DoD laboratories. These partnerships are formed through Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs). TechLink does NOT help companies obtain DoD contracts or install projects at DoD facilities.

  • The best part, TechLink is funded by the DoD, meaning businesses don’t pay for its help:
  • Evaluate DoD inventions and submit license applications
  • Facilitate communications between DoD labs and companies leading to “win-win” license agreement
  • Partner with DoD labs for joint technology research and development
  • Gain access to unique, world-class DoD research facilities
  • Compete more effectively for DoD SBIR/STTR funding for new technology development

What technologies does TechLink address?

TechLink organizes the DoD’s available technologies into 10 areas: Energy, Materials, Sensors, Photonics, Software/Info Technology, Bio-Technology, Military Technology, Electronics, Communications and Environmental technologies.

For example, researchers at the Air Force’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate’s improved roll-to-roll manufacturing of perovskite thin-film solar cells technology is available to businesses for commercialization.

What is TechLink’s track record of success?

  • TechLink has facilitated 600 license agreements between DoD and companies nationwide, transferring over 1,000 DoD inventions to industry
  • TechLink has also brokered more than 1,270 technology transfer partnerships between companies and DoD labs or centers
  • Most DoD inventions have civilian and commercial applications: DoD technology licenses facilitated by TechLink have generated $1.6 billion in direct sales and $4.4 billion in total economic impact.

How can you learn more and get started?

1) If you are interested in licensing existing technologies:

First, read more about how to license technology from defense laboratories.

Search TechLink’s Technology Database and check the Technology Spotlight regularly for updates on available technologies and contact information for the related technology managers. Once you identify a technology of interest, reach out and the technology manager will help you assess suitability for your company needs, facilitate your connection with DoD, and walk you through the licensing process.

2) If you are interested in partnering with the DoD on R&D of your technology:

Read this brief overview of DOD Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs).  Then, research the TechLink Technology Database and list of DoD Research Laboratories to get a better sense of the types of innovations that may be of interest to the DoD. If you see a technology that is similar to your own, the associated laboratory may be interested in conducting research together. Contact a Technology Manager to find out more.

3) When you’re ready to reach out to TechLink:

Complete TechLink’s contact form, and the appropriate staff will get back to you about your interest. There’s also a Technology Manager listed on each technology, with phone number and email.

4) Other helpful resources:

Listen to this interview featuring Marti Elder, Senior Technology Manager at TechLink on Green Connections Radio for more information.

Before getting involved in licenses and patents, check out the CEBN’s recorded webinar, What Clean Tech Entrepreneurs Need to Know about Intellectual Property.



This post was originally published on the Clean Energy Business Network’s blog on March 30, 2018.

Clean Energy Business Network

The Clean Energy Business Network (CEBN) is growing the clean energy economy—one small business at a time.

The Clean Energy Business Network (CEBN) is a group of 3,000+ business leaders working in every aspect of the clean energy economy. Members are diverse, but predominantly C-suite executives of small- to medium-size businesses across the U.S. The CEBN serves as a collective voice before policymakers empowering these small businesses, and helps these companies navigate funding, networking, and business development opportunities. Started in 2009 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the CEBN is now a division of the Business Council for Sustainable EnergyClick here to learn more about CEBN membership and join.*

* All payments to CEBN will be processed through BCSE.

BCSE Statement on Tax Extenders in Lead up to April 15 Tax Day (April 12, 2018)

Clean Energy Businesses Urge Continued Action on Tax Extenders

Washington, DC – Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) President, Lisa Jacobson, made the following statement as a follow up to testimony she provided at a March 14 hearing of the House Tax Policy Subcommittee in which she urged continued congressional action on important clean energy tax measures.

“As we approach Tax Day on April 15, BCSE urges Congress to support legislation to provide durable tax policy that is equitable across eligible clean energy technologies.

“Renewable energy, energy efficiency and natural gas deliver jobs, increased economic growth, greater energy productivity and fewer emissions for the United States. This market dynamism and success is partly credited to tax policy frameworks that have benefitted some, but not all, clean energy technologies.

“Current law provides a mix of tax incentives for the production of energy and for investment in plant property for a range of technologies. It also includes incentives in the areas of sustainable transportation and energy efficiency.

“While Congress has made significant inroads on tax policy, much remains to be done in these important sectors. The tax code is currently structured in a manner that puts otherwise competitive clean energy technologies at a disadvantage in the marketplace. In the renewable energy sector, these technologies include: biomass, geothermal, landfill gas, waste to energy, hydropower, marine and hydrokinetic.

“Additionally, extensions and some modifications are needed for credits related to energy efficiency, energy storage and geothermal technologies. Finally, all these technologies should be eligible for Master Limited Partnerships which would use tax structures to drive private investment into infrastructure.” Jacobson said.

For a complete copy of Jacobson’s March testimony go here.

BCSE Statement on Virginia Carbon Rule Comments (April 10, 2018)

April 10, 2018                                                                                                                   

Contact: Laura Tierney
Office: 202.785.0507

Clean Energy Coalition Commends Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on Proposed Emissions Trading Regulation

Washington, DC – The Business Council for Sustainable Energy has submitted comments to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in support of its proposed regulation to establish an emissions trading scheme in the Commonwealth. The Council commends the DEQ and the Northam administration for moving forward on this important effort to take advantage of clean energy technologies, curb emissions, and grow Virginia’s economy. BCSE President Lisa Jacobson said:

“The Council is pleased that Virginia is moving forward with a regulation to establish an emissions trading program. The Council supports market-based mechanisms that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because these programs offer a range of benefits, including emission reductions, clean energy development, and economic growth.

“A regulation to reduce and cap carbon dioxide through a multi-state trading program like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) makes sense for Virginia citizens and businesses. National data shows that the energy sector can reduce emissions while keeping costs low. Virginia is well positioned to build on these trends through an emissions trading program that incentivizes the use of cleaner energy resources that promote economic development and job creation in the Commonwealth.”

In its comments, the Council encouraged DEQ to consider the following:

  • BCSE supports the DEQ’s proposal to distribute allowances to sources using an updating output-based allocation structure.
  • DEQ should encourage the use of set asides granted to DMME to support of the full suite of clean energy technologies, including both supply-side and demand-side energy efficiency measures.
  • RGGI states have benefitted from investing the multiyear funding from auction proceeds in clean energy, and BCSE encourages DEQ to consider a larger set aside amount, if feasible.

The Council’s full comments are available here.

Download this press release here.

Spring 2018 Quarterly Connection

BCSE Quarterly Connection: April 2018

In this issue:

President’s View: Clean Energy Industries Provide Significant Resilience and Reliability to the US Energy System

With increased focus on managing physical and cyber risks to the energy system, grid reliability and resilient buildings and infrastructure are paramount.  In 2018, BCSE will initiate a strategic dialogue on resilient and reliable energy infrastructure to define the role that clean energy technologies play in providing these essential services and to identify measures that can be taken to drive investment and deployment.  Whether it be federal infrastructure proposals under consideration by the Trump Administration and Congress, proceedings under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or state or city level actions, the Council will work with its broad-based membership to help policymakers improve grid reliability and preparedness in the public and private sectors.  This new strategic dialogue will provide an important engagement platform for Council members to share expertise as well as develop and implement advocacy strategies.

2018 Factbook Shows Gains in Clean Energy Deployment and Jobs, Low Energy Prices and Declining Emissions

BCSE and Bloomberg New Energy Finance released the sixth edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook in mid-February with bold headlines. Specifically, the 2018 Factbook showed that expanded deployment of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy generated economic benefits without requiring increases in energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions. Further, continued declining technology and fuel costs resulted in households spending the smallest proportion of their annual budgets on energy and electricity costs since the early 1960s. The Factbook data affirms that growth of sustainable energy industries contributed to greater economic competitiveness, job creation, and the expansion of the American economy. BCSE and its members have been sharing the Factbook findings with a wide range of policymaker audiences in Washington, DC, including Trump Administration officials and congressional leaders as well as state policymakers though NARUC and NASEO forums. BCSE has also taken the Factbook on the road and has held briefings in Minneapolis and Oklahoma City. Looking ahead, BCSE is planning outreach events in New York City and Sacramento this spring. A full list of outreach activities can be found here.

Talanoa Dialogue: Clean Energy Actions for Climate Ambition

The BCSE is taking part in a new initiative under the UN Climate Change process – the Talanoa Dialogue. The dialogue is aimed at enhancing the long-term ambition of countries to tackle climate change. Under the leadership of the Delegation of Fiji, the current President of the UN climate negotiations, governments and civil society will embrace the practice of “Talanoa,” sharing stories, building empathy and making wise decisions for the collective good. The Talanoa asks countries and stakeholders around the world to consider three questions related to climate action, “Where are we? Where do we want to go? and How do we get there?”

The Council’s written submission highlights the progress of the U.S. energy transformation and the policy, financing and partnership tools that have enabled this shift to cleaner and more efficient energy resources.  It showcases how U.S. companies have made significant progress on their climate commitments and are leading the way with innovative new projects.  In telling this story, the Council’s aim is for countries to see that the technology tools and policy experiences already exist to help reduce emissions in the energy sector, and that greater ambition can be pursued when policy actions embrace a broad portfolio of clean energy solutions and include partnership and consultation with the private sector.

For more information and to see other submissions, visit

The Council will attend the Bonn Climate Change Conference, April 30 – May 10th, and the first in-person Talanoa Dialogue workshop will be held on May 6.

Save the Date: Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, CA, September 12-14

The Council plans to lead a delegation to the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), which will convene sub-national actors – representatives of cities, states, regions, business, civil society, academia and other stakeholders – from around the world on September 12-14 in San Francisco, California. The purpose of GCAS is to showcase climate action and inspire deeper commitments from national governments, and each other, in support of the Paris Agreement.

The Summit is hosted by California Governor Jerry Brown, and co-chaired by Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg and Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra.  In preparation for the California Summit, the We Are Still Coalition will launch an action campaign for current and new signatories to join on April 22.

Congress Gives Boost to Critical Energy and Environmental Programs in 2018 Spending Package

BCSE saw positive results from its advocacy efforts to secure funding and specific program level support for clean energy initiatives at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency in the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill that passed Congress at the end of March. The bill provided more limited State Department allocations to international climate change bodies and prohibits funding for the Green Climate Fund, but continues its Energy Bureau efforts.

The funding package rejected the deep cuts proposed in the Administration’s FY 2018 budget request, and instead provides:

  • An increase of nearly $1.5 billion in Department of Energy clean energy programs compared to the prior fiscal year
  • Increased funding for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (+14%), Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (+16%), Office of Science (+16%), and Office of Fossil Energy (+10%)
  • Continued support for DOE’s CHP Technical Assistance Partnership Program
  • Stable funding for the Environmental Protection Agency

BCSE now turns attention to the FY 2019 Appropriations bill. BCSE has submitted testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee and will do the same for the House Appropriations Committee in the coming weeks.

BCSE has also been meeting with members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to discuss our funding priorities and to share information from the 2018 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook and the Clean Energy Business Network’s Faces Behind the Facts, which tells the stories of business leaders working across renewable energy, energy efficiency and natural gas industries. The Faces project also features examples of how federal programs have helped launch successful business ventures and provide solutions that work for American consumers and taxpayers.  The companion documents demonstrate how U.S., federal investments have helped pave the way for technology improvements and cost declines in the energy sector.

The full Omnibus bill text can be found here. The Senate summary of the bill can be found here, and the House summary can be found here.

Utility Commissioners and Staff Share Interest in Clean Energy Market Trends

A panel of BCSE members has been providing information to utility commissioners and staff about clean energy market trends from the 2018 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. BCSE was invited to present information from the Factbook to the NARUC Natural Gas Staff Subcommittee at their Winter Policy Summit in Washington, DC in February and again in early April during one of its monthly conference calls. BCSE has also been invited to update commissioners on the Energy Resources and Environment Committee during a conference call in May.

In addition to sharing the facts, BCSE joined other clean energy industries to co-host a February reception for commissioners, staff, and other attendees at the NARUC Winter Policy Summit in Washington, DC. Other receptions and events are being planned for the mid-Atlantic regional meeting in June and the NARUC Summer Policy Summit in Phoenix in July.  For more information about how you can participate in these events, please contact Ruth in the Council’s offices.

BCSE Engages as EPA Moves on Multiple Regulatory Fronts

As part of the 2018 Clean Energy Forum, BCSE hosted Bill Wehrum, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at EPA. Mr. Wehrum outlined areas of focus for the Air Office, including proposed rules to repeal and replace the Clean Power Plan, revisiting New Source Review Program regulations, and the Renewable Fuel Standard. Since that meeting, EPA has also indicated it will reopen the midterm evaluation of Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards. BCSE will engage in some form on each of these topics, and looks forward to its Clean Air Subcommittee meeting on April 12 where the Council’s EPA outreach will be discussed. BCSE’s most recent comments on the proposed replacement of the CPP are available here.

The 2018 Jan Schori Summer Fellowship Program

About the Council

The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) is a coalition of companies and trade associations from the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors, and includes independent electric power producers, investor-owned utilities, public power, commercial end-users and environmental market service providers.  Founded in 1992, the Council advocates for policies at state, national and international levels that increases the use of commercially-available clean energy technologies, products and services.  The coalition’s diverse business membership is united around the revitalization of our economy and creation of a secure and sustainable energy future for America.

About the Jan Schori Summer Fellowship

The BCSE seeks one fellow to assist with policy research, legislative analysis, membership coordination, communications, and general office management.  Qualified candidates should have interest in the energy and environment fields and/or legislative experience.  Responsibilities related to communications include press outreach, website maintenance and social media.

Jan Schori Summer Fellows work alongside the BCSE’s fulltime staff in the Council’s downtown Washington, DC offices.  The Fellowship runs approximately from the beginning of June to mid-August, depending on fellows’ academic schedules and on-going congressional activity.  The position is unpaid, though stipends may be available for qualified candidates.

Following their work with the BCSE, previous Jan Schori fellows have gone to work for the Office of Management and Budget, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Maryland State Energy Administration, and various clean energy businesses and business organizations.

The Fellowship was established in 2008 to honor upon her retirement Jan Schori, former BCSE Board Chair and general manager and chief executive officer of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).  Ms. Schori is currently of Counsel at Downy Brand in Sacramento, CA and serves as an independent trustee on the North American Electric Reliability Council Board of Trustees and as a Board Member on the Climate Action Reserve.

Issue Areas 

Energy and environmental policy, greenhouse gas emissions management, domestic and international clean energy market development, politics.

Application Process

Please send a cover letter and résumé to Carolyn Sloan ( The deadline for applications is April 6, 2018. Interviews for selected candidates will begin shortly thereafter and decisions made within a few weeks.


Developing Emerging Technologies in Clean Energy with the ‘Systems Thinker’ Method

…and how Systems Engineering will transform the clean energy movement.

At SolGreen we’re re-imagining and creating new systems in the form of products that give everyday people access to a clean energy experience. From the development of the first solar table to our current integration of software that changes the way first responders gather data during and after an emergency to save lives- our approach clean energy is that of a “systems thinker”.

As a CEO and technologist, this systems thinking approach is the foundation for how I see innovation in the clean energy space of the future- a future that serves the needs and desires of everyday people while accomplishing this sustainably and efficiently.


Systems are all around us, and have been since the beginning of mankind. They have helped us hunt for food, travel the planet, go to the moon and live the lives we want to live. They also continue to perform the tasks that we either don’t want to do, don’t have the time to do, or simply can’t do efficiently. From computing a simple math problem in school, to the usage of GPS satellites that hover thousands of miles above the Earth’s surface and integrate with our phones software apps that navigate us to our destinations.

Today, we face an exciting and pivotal moment in history where our systems are quickly evolving to maintain and accommodate our ever-changing way of life. Sustainability and climate change are terms that people have seen debated on cable news outlets and read in countless news columns but rarely see how it can enhance their own lives. Just imagine if we moved the needle to center the conversation on how clean energy can positively affect our current systems and our way of life in a way people can see, use and understand.

Understanding the ‘systems thinking’ approach can change everyday life and make the communities we live in safer and more resilient.


On a sunny day in Phoenix, AZ I was writing on a laptop at a bookstore. The exterior space of the bookstore was well furnished with seating for leisure, although sunny outside, everyone sat inside on their laptops and cell phones charging to wall outlets, most wanted no parts of the outdoors because the outdoors lacked one everyday necessity they needed to stay power to charge laptops and cell phones.

Developing an emerging technology like the solar table is a complex process of (1) understanding both the problem and the simple solution, (2) planning and understanding the life cycle of your product and (3) how it will interact with the user and its environment.

In the end, the idea of a solar table went from a vision I had in a bookstore to the formation of a new company – SolGreen® Solutions – and the development of the first U.S. patented and commercialized outdoor solar table, called the Evodia Solar Table.

Evodia Solar Table (night) at Michigan State University.

The Evodia Solar Table provides people and communities with access to important everyday amenities that are typically enjoyed indoors. Outdoor spaces can now accommodate the needs of modern life with the help of clean technology. Fueled by solar power, GFE & USB device charging, Wi-Fi, streaming, LED lighting, comfortable seating and protective shade are all a part of experiencing the convenience of the Evodia Solar Table.

To date, the Evodia Solar Table has crossed the chasm of “great idea” and into a tangible, real life solution for universities, schools, government and commercial entities for access to clean power outdoors. Built around rigorous key safety requirements and manufacturing scalability the solar table has proven itself to be more than convenience but a necessity for the resiliency of our infrastructure.

In Fall 2017, our Evodia Solar Tables at Florida International University remained fully intact and operational after surviving the Category II Hurricane Irma that swept through the state. The hurricane aftermath left many areas without power on the campus, yet the solar tables gave power to students and first responders the next day. Allowing them to charge devices, contact family and connect to Wi-Fi. This event spurred interest from Puerto Rico, a place devastated by last years Hurricane Maria, who are now looking to utilize our solar tables for disaster relief, resilience and economic growth.

Evodia Solar Tables giving power to students after Hurricane Irma.


In seeking to understand the big picture – the ‘systems thinker’ must be bold, brave, and provide epic-scale thinking to generate solutions that can positively affect the simplest yet biggest parts of our lives. Imagine solar tables in every city in the world. It can and will happen.

Through my 18 years as a systems engineer, now CEO of SolGreen®, I’ve come to understand that using ‘systems thinking’ to integrate clean technology with everyday amenities will change the way we shape the future of sustainability, give people access to clean, sustainable energy and further develop and enhance the end user experience.

These game changers are what I aim to write about in this blog series and why we must continue developing and supporting new emerging technologies that utilize renewable energy resources to benefit everyday people’s lives.

This blog post was originally published on the SolGreen Solutions website.

BCSE Statement on FY 2018 Omnibus & DOE Appropriations (March 23, 2018)

March 23, 2018                                                                                                                   

Contact: Laura Tierney
Office: 202.785.0507

Congress Supports Clean Energy Programs in Omnibus

Washington, DC – Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) President, Lisa Jacobson, made the following statement regarding the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill enacted by Congress.

“The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) wishes to express our appreciation for the steps Congress has taken to raise the budget caps and to enact the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, and we are pleased the President signed the legislation earlier today.

“The market dynamism and innovation we are seeing in the clean energy sector has come as the result of the partnership between the federal government and clean energy industries and from DOE’s world class research, both pure and applied.  Congress recognizes this and continues to fund important clean energy programs at the Department of Energy and to invest in energy research development and deployment that will help to sustain growth in clean energy markets.

“As Congress continues its work on Fiscal Year 2019 budget and tax issues in the coming months the Council encourages Congress to maintain the positive momentum that has been achieved,” Jacobson said.

Download the press release.

Extenders stuck as House GOP calls for ‘litmus test’ (March 15, 2018)

Extenders stuck as House GOP calls for ‘litmus test’

Thursday, March 15, 2018
Geof Koss, E&E News reporter

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas). Photo credit: House Ways and Means Committee

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) during a hearing yesterday on tax incentives. Ways and Means Committee

Senate Democrats yesterday lashed out at their House GOP counterparts for resisting efforts to revisit a host of expired energy tax breaks in ongoing omnibus negotiations.

Meanwhile, tax writers across the Capitol called on affected sectors to justify why their respective breaks should continue in a post-tax reform world.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee who also sits on the Finance panel, unloaded on House Republicans for opposing the addition of extensions for efficiency, alternative vehicles, biofuels and other incentives in omnibus spending talks.

“We’re just in this very draconian world over there that the tax bill was everything even though everybody knows it has many, many problems,” Cantwell said yesterday at the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) Renewable Energy Policy Forum, after being asked about the prospects for extenders in the omnibus.

She said there was bipartisan “anger” toward the House for its “stingy” approach to tax extenders for renewable sources, referencing the fact that last month’s budget deal largely only retroactively extended many incentives for 2017.

A proposal floated by Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee would have extended the breaks for both 2017 and 2018 but was rebuffed by House GOP opposition (E&E Daily, Feb. 9).

“You can ask Dean Heller or Chuck Grassley or anybody else and they will give you that viewpoint,” Cantwell said, referencing her Nevada and Iowa GOP colleagues on Finance, both of whom support renewable sources that are economic mainstays in their home states.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking member on Finance, declined to comment on whether extenders were still in play for the omnibus, citing ongoing negotiations. But he too alluded to internal GOP divisions on the issue.

“Because they moved with reckless haste” on tax reform, now they’ve got a division within their ranks, Wyden told E&E News yesterday. “I’d like to hear how they’re going to resolve that.”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the Finance Committee who supports longer extensions for the assortment of expired tax breaks, said yesterday that while a handful of tax matters remain alive in negotiations with the House, they would probably likely be limited to a fix to how the new tax law inadvertently affected agricultural cooperatives.

“I think it’s going to be very narrow,” Thune said.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who also sits on Finance, said he would like to see energy extenders included in the omnibus but noted that Republicans will likely need to make additional changes to clean up mistakes in the tax law.

“They need a technical corrections bill badly here,” he said.

Cantwell also suggested that the extender push was likely to be punted to a later debate over reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, which has previously devolved into a food fight over unrelated tax extenders (E&E Daily, April 6, 2016).

‘Litmus test’

Meanwhile, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy yesterday heard hours of testimony from various energy sectors on the importance of their respective tax incentives (E&E Daily, March 12).

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who is strongly opposed to extenders, said at the outset of the hearing that such temporary breaks will be subjected to a “litmus test” in the post-tax-reform world “starting right now.”

“We’re going to take a close look at each of them … and ask ourselves: Are these provisions truly needed in a modern tax code?” Brady asked.

“Do they amplify and complement the growth and competitiveness provided by the new tax system? If the answer is yes, what other tax provisions are stakeholders willing to give up to make extenders permanent or a long-term part of our tax code,” he said.

Subcommittee Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) took a similarly dim view of the on-again, off-again tax breaks.

“Contrary to our focus in tax reform on providing broad tax benefits for all taxpayers like rate reduction and full expensing, many of these expired provisions are targeted very narrowly to encourage specific activities or industries,” he said.

Nonetheless, Buchanan said he had invited any group wishing to testify to do so, leading to 20 witnesses spread out over four panels, who were peppered with questions throughout the day.

Some Republicans had tough questions, including Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.), who questioned the need for alternative vehicle breaks. Such incentives were intended to reduce risks from dependence on foreign energy sources, a purpose he said no longer makes sense given changing global energy dynamics.

“We’re producing more oil than we ever have,” Rice noted.

But other Republicans on the panel expressed support for expanding some green incentives.

Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), for instance, lamented that a 2015 tax deal that extended and phased down over five years the renewable and investment production tax credits omitted sources such as biomass, hydropower and waste to energy.

“We need to do something to put these competing technologies on an even playing field with each other,” he said.

Lisa Jacobson, president of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, took advantage of the opening to highlight legislation, H.R. 4137, by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) that would allow additional technologies “that right now are basically at a competitive disadvantage” to qualify.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), a climate-conscious moderate on the panel, used the hearing to tout the benefits of energy efficiency, which he called “the quickest, most affordable and easiest way to extend energy supplies, reduce carbon emissions while simultaneously improving the bottom line of businesses.”

Former Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.), the senior vice president of Alliantgroup, which helps private companies utilize state and federal tax credits, called for support for efficiency incentives, which are currently expired.

The benefits of the so-called Section 179D break, intended to spur energy efficient buildings, allow both parties to “address their core values and find an area where they come together.”

“We’re lowering the cost of government, we’re helping taxpayers,” he told the panel.

While they did not testify yesterday, representatives of two groups affiliated with the billionaire Koch brothers’ political network also weighed in with the panel, arguing that giving the extenders new life would undercut last year’s historic tax reform law.

“Adding billions of dollars in expired corporate welfare provisions back into the tax code after tax reform has passed would needlessly weaken the most significant legislative achievement in more than 30 years and send the wrong signal to special interests that Washington is back to business as usual,” wrote Freedom Partners and Americans for Prosperity to the subcommittee.

Reporter Hannah Northey contributed.