Clean Energy Providers: Plug into Emerging State Opportunities
July 28, 2017 │ Lynn Abramson
Executive Director, CEBN
Innovation in energy production, distribution, storage and use is creating market disruptions at an increasing pace. How are state energy policymakers responding? State policies can either create new market opportunities for clean energy technologies or impose barriers, so it is important for business leaders to understand and respond to these developments.
On July 25, the Clean Energy Business Network (CEBN) welcomed David Terry, Executive Director of the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) for a webinar discussion on recent trends in state energy policy. NASEO represents the 56 State and Tribal Energy Officials (SEOs) across the United States and its territories. These officials are typically governor-appointed, and work to advise the governor’s office and state legislature on energy policy directions.
• State policy officials usually view energy through an economic development lens. Terry noted that most SEOs want to support a diverse range of energy technologies, and are particularly interested in opportunities to catalyze private-sector job creation, ensure energy affordability, and support energy system reliability.
• Energy assurance and emergency preparedness is another priority for the states. NASEO is helping states examine how to incorporate storage, microgrids, and other solutions to prepare for and mitigate potential energy supply disruptions arising from natural disasters, cyberattacks, and other threats.
• It takes both ratepayer and private-sector investments to finance new energy infrastructure. Public utility commissions typically focus on utility regulations and rate structures, Terry said, while SEOs typically take the lead on broad range of energy issues and assist their governors in developing energy policies. States can offer incentives, innovative financing mechanisms, and business incubator programs to help leverage private-sector investments in new energy technologies and infrastructure.
• States are looking at pathways for using energy efficiency to satisfy existing federal and state air quality requirements. Examples mentioned by Terry include advancing building energy codes and exploring mechanisms that can be used to quantify energy efficiency savings and resulting emissions reductions to meet compliance targets.
• Vehicle electrification and fuel diversification are creating new opportunities and challenges in the transportation and utility sectors. States are already investing in electric, natural gas, fuel cell, and other advanced vehicle technologies. The Volkswagen settlement with federal regulators will infuse billions of dollars into low-emission and zero-emission vehicle infrastructure deployment. These investments are spurring new jobs and utilization of “home grown” energy resources, but are also triggering decisions about public infrastructure needs and utility policies.
• As a business leader, one way that you can navigate and engage in these emerging state trends is through the state energy policy planning process. Terry noted that NASEO maintains a database of state energy plans and their status, which is a good starting point for understanding state priorities and timelines for making updates. As state plans are crafted or undergo revision, speak up with your recommendations and supporting data to help inform these state-led processes. Get to know your State Energy Office and assess market opportunities for your technology or services. If you’re seeking policy changes, framing your arguments through an economic lens may be most impactful.
Click here to learn more about these issues. Feel free to consider the CEBN and NASEO resources if you need assistance.
The Clean Energy Business Network (CEBN) is one of the largest and most diverse clean energy organizations in the country, with more than 3,000 members across all 50 U.S. states. Started in 2009 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the CEBN is now an initiative of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, where it serves as a grassroots arm to inform and engage clean energy business leaders in policy issues affecting their industry. Please visit www.cebn.org to learn more about the network or to join.