BCSE 2016 Fall Newsletter
Quarterly Connection, Vol. 22
- President's View: Strong Clean Energy Economics Support Job Creation and US Competitiveness
- Federal Infrastructure Proposals Should Modernize the Energy System
- Making the Business Case for International Climate Action
- NARUC Commissioners Talk Clean Energy and ICT in Southern California
- Action on Tax Reform an Early Agenda Item for 2017
- Council to Advocate for Energy Policies in Context of 2017 Federal Infrastructure Proposals
- States Poised to Take Lead on Clean Energy and Climate Policy
President’s View - Strong Clean Energy Economics Support Job Creation and US Competitiveness
With political change soon to be underway in Washington, DC, it is important to highlight the tremendous change we have witnessed in the marketplace in the past decade. During this time, clean energy technologies have experienced substantial cost reductions and significant market growth. These industries are job creators and have helped make the United States an attractive country to do business in, as a result of competitive energy prices.
In 2017, the Council will celebrate its 25th anniversary and the Council will continue its efforts as a bi-partisan, business organization to influence federal energy, tax and infrastructure policy discussions. I anticipate that states will begin to take the lead on a new wave of energy and environmental policies, and the Council will remain engaged there, too. We will be working broadly with all state Public Utility Commissions and more specifically with the states of Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
At the United Nations climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco, last month, I heard from Council members that their businesses see the shift towards clean energy resources, products and services as a global and irreversible trend. These companies are committed internally to reducing emissions and externally to serving customers in the multi-trillion dollar global market for clean energy. BCSE and its members will remain involved in the international climate change process, and advocate for the US government to do the same. Engagement is needed to protect US business interests and to ensure that the rules of the Paris Agreement are transparent and open to US companies.
In the weeks ahead, BCSE will be preparing for the release of the fifth edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. The release of the Factbook on February 8, 2017 will be extremely well-timed to influence the early days of a new Administration and Congress, and state legislative sessions. So, mark your calendars and I hope that you can join us at our release events in Washington on February 8 and New York City on February 16.
Federal Infrastructure Principles Should Expand and Modernize the Energy System
The extensive power grid and natural gas system in the US have fueled the nation’s economic growth and ensured its global competitiveness. However, the country’s energy infrastructure lacks the attributes necessary to meet the demands of the 21st century, especially as society becomes more digital and more connected. At the heart of this inter-connectedness is our energy infrastructure. We must therefore protect it and ensure that it operates in the most efficient way – meaning that it is reliable, affordable, smart and resilient. BCSE has been working with its members this fall to identify opportunities to support long-term planning and investment in US energy infrastructure.
Between now and 2040, it is estimated that the US will need $5 trillion in new infrastructure investment, including $560 billion in additional energy infrastructure spending alone. BCSE believes that reforming and reinvesting in the energy sector should be a primary focus in any infrastructure bill due to its direct link to US economic productivity, and due to the energy sector’s integral relationship with the water, buildings, transport and waste sectors. Further, as the energy sector becomes more connected, affordable and reliable clean energy becomes more important, and the security of these systems must be protected.
Federal, state and local governments have strong roles to play in shaping our infrastructure future. Fostering public-private partnerships is key to spurring investment. BCSE will be sharing its views on energy infrastructure issues with the Trump Administration and Congress in the coming weeks.
Making the Business Case for International Climate Action
BCSE members demonstrated their commitment to climate action at the UN climate change negotiations, showcasing their low-carbon technology and policy expertise through a series of public and private events at COP 22, held in Marrakech, Morocco, from November 7-18. Countries re-affirmed their commitment to implementing the Paris Agreement through the Marrakech Action Proclamation and agreeing to a 2018 deadline to complete the Paris “rulebook” of the Agreement.
The Council is energized to embark upon the phase of implementation of the Paris Agreement with national governments, to build out nationally-determined commitments and identify ways that existing clean energy technologies can help governments meet their climate mitigation and adaptation goals.
“Markets are clearly headed toward clean energy… Most business people have come to understand: investing in clean energy simply makes good economic sense.” This message, conveyed by US Secretary of State John Kerry, rings true for BCSE. The Council will continue to make the business case for climate action and international engagement in 2017.
For more information on the BCSE delegation to COP 22 or to watch re-caps of side events, please see www.bcse.org/cop22.
NARUC Commissioners Talk Clean Energy and ICT in Southern California
Clean energy was showcased during the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in La Quinta, California, in November. A reception, hosted by clean energy industry sponsors AWEA, AEE, AEMA, BCSE, CERES, Gridwise Alliance, ESA, NEMA, and SEIA, was held poolside at the historic La Quinta Hotel and Resort, and attended by over 200 guests including commissioners, commission staff, government agency staff, and friends of the industry.
A separate BCSE breakfast meeting focused on clean energy and information and communications technology (ICT) innovation and its role in reducing energy and water usage. This discussion featured California Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval and Nelson Mix, of the EPA Water Security Division, with representatives from BCSE member companies, ACLARA and Qualcomm providing introductions. Close to 40 people attended the early morning event, including commissioners and commission staff from CA, NJ, WA, HI, PA, OH, SD, DC, AR, and ID, as well as industry executives and regulatory advisers.
Action on Tax Reform an Early Agenda Item for 2017
Congressional leaders are anticipating action on tax reform early in 2017. The House will reportedly move first with the aim of passing legislation by July 4, with Senate action to follow. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has indicated that Congress intends to deal with tax extenders during the debate over tax reform.
It had been hoped that the continuing resolution (CR), which provides funding for federal government programs through April 28, 2017, would create an opening to include tax extenders, but the legislation was silent on the issue.
BCSE has been actively engaged in pressing for clean energy tax extenders throughout the year. In the days before Congress adjourned for the year the Council contacted many key House and Senate offices and issued a statement from industry leaders found here. The Council will continue to work with our members to assess opportunities to enact long-term, stable tax policy in 2017.
Council to Advocate for Energy Policies in Context of 2017 Federal Infrastructure Proposals
Energy policy will continue to be a focus for BCSE advocacy in 2017 with the Council’s proposals likely to get wrapped together with discussions over federal infrastructure proposals.
Despite the hard work of congressional champions, the Council’s energy policy priorities were left on the table when the 114th Congress adjourned in December without taking action on an energy bill. The draft energy conference report that was being negotiated by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI), Natural Resources Committee Chair Rob Bishop (R-UT), and others, included a number of small, but important, energy efficiency measures and some hydro provisions, but it was a much pared down version of what BCSE and its members had been working towards. The Council anticipates aggressive educational and outreach efforts to lay the ground work for congressional action on energy, tax, and budget priorities in 2017.
States Poised to Take Lead on Clean Energy and Climate Policy
With uncertainty on the fate of federal climate and energy policies, states are poised to take the lead on advancing clean energy and climate policies. A number of Governors and state legislatures recognize that clean energy is the key to achieving their policy and economic development goals. States like Minnesota continue to work on ways to comply with the Clean Power Plan and are likely to consider enhanced Renewable Energy Standards. Nevada is especially well positioned to take on meaningful energy legislation, with the upcoming 2017 state legislative session being billed as the “energy session.”
Initiatives such as the Under2 Coalition are also gaining prominence. Under2 Coalition brings together sub-national governments to work to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as several city governments and subnational governments around the world are signatories. Ken Alex, a key energy and strategic economic advisor to California Governor Jerry Brown, who helped to organize Under2 Coalition, joined the December meeting of the Council’s State and Regional Policy Committee, to share information about the Under2 Coalition with Council members.
The Council will continue to reach out to state policy makers through our State and Regional Policy Committee and through our State Education Outreach Project in order to stay informed and to engage in clean energy developments occurring at the state level. In addition, the Council will continue to engage with utility commissioners through our NARUC initiative to share information about the evolving clean energy landscape as commissioners consider state energy planning.