All posts by Business Council for Sustainable Energy

BCSE and CEBN Statement on Social and Economic Justice

The Business Council for Sustainable Energy and Clean Energy Business Network condemn racism in all its forms. We stand in solidarity in the fight for justice and a more equitable society.

Our organizations are committed to advancing a more equitable future within the clean energy economy and beyond, and we recognize the significant, and often tragic, disparities that exist for the Black community and people of color.

In reflecting on how to make progress within our society, we must also look internally at the energy sector. As we grow the clean energy workforce and leadership opportunities within it, we must challenge ourselves to seek greater diversity and inclusivity in our industries. This is especially important as we work to alleviate the disproportionate impact of climate change upon minority and low-income communities. As corporate leaders, we recognize the importance of our voice in contributing to proactive and thoughtful solutions to racial and economic divides in this critical moment.

Clean Energy Questions for 2020

It is the start of a new year, a new decade. Here are five questions that the Council is thinking about for 2020.

 


1) Will the 2020 Election Impede or Advance the Progress of Clean Energy?

The upcoming Presidential election in November will no doubt have an impact on policy action in Washington this year. Political questions in this area include:

  • How will the Democratic primaries and then presidential candidates address energy and climate policy, trade, economic growth, jobs and workforce development?
  • Will election year partisanship impact congressional action on budget, tax, energy and climate change legislation?  

 

2) Is Substantial Legislative Action Possible in Congress?

Against the political backdrop of impeachment and the November election, the BCSE is keeping a close eye on legislative items that will or could move in 2020. Possible bills that the BCSE is watching include:

  • Surface Transportation Legislation – authorization to fund surface transportation projects is set to expire in September 2020, and the Highway Trust Fund that pays for highway construction will run out of money in 2022 without a new infusion of cash. This bill, which includes a climate change title and authorization for alternative fueled vehicle refueling infrastructure, is expected to be one of the first pieces of legislation taken up by the Senate after the impeachment trial. The House of Representatives is set to reveal its legislative approach soon. 
  • Energy and Climate Change Legislation – the House Energy and Commerce Committee has announced plans to unveil this month a comprehensive climate change bill to achieve a 100 percent net clean energy economy by 2050. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee intends to move forward with an energy and climate bill that would start with 52 pieces of energy legislation that have been reported from the Committee. Can these pieces of legislation pass their respective chambers, and if so, how will they be merged and enacted into law?
  • Federal budget –Clean energy programs received a plus up in the omnibus FY2020 appropriations bill - will this trend continue?
  • Tax policy– Clean energy tax credits will be on the docket again this year, as only a short-term extension was passed at the end of 2019. Possible legislation includes the currently proposed GREEN Act in the House.

 

3) Will the Call for Transmission and Grid Modernization be Heeded?

The need for new transmission and grid modernization has long been evident but is gaining increased attention as Congress begins looking at ways to address climate change and energy infrastructure. Areas that the BCSE is thinking about include:

  • To move larger amounts of renewable energy to load centers, investment in transmission modernization, efficiency and build will be needed – especially as state policies call for increasing amounts of renewable energy over the next ten to thirty years.
  • Planning processes that are clear, predictable and timely are needed. The scope and frequency of planning processes vary throughout the country and regions.
  • Policymaker education is important to explain why transmission policies are needed and which policies would be most impactful to enable transmission investment – for modernization, efficiency and construction.

 

4) Will Collaboration Among States Continue to Be Enough to Drive Down Emissions?

Individual state policy decisions are already advancing the progress of clean energy. In addition to keeping a close eye on more aggressive climate and energy policy actions in individual states, the Council is watching collaborative efforts among states, including:

  • The Transportation and Climate Initiative is a new regional collaboration of 13 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic jurisdictions that seeks to develop the clean energy economy, improve transportation, and reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector.
  • The work of the U.S. Climate Alliance, which brings together 24 Governors committed to climate action, and the peer-network of Climate Mayors.

 

5) Will There Be Increased Consensus or Divergence on International Climate Change Action, Trade?

Key moments lie ahead in 2020 for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and U.S. Administration decisions may impact the position of U.S. clean energy companies in the global economy. International questions the Council is pondering include:

  • At COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland in November, the U.S. will have completed its formal withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. At the same time, countries are expected to finalize the rules for carbon trading and deliver strengthened national commitments on climate change. Will the call to action from the scientific community on climate change and the general public be heeded by governments? How can public-private partnerships enable governments to do more?
  • What role will trade policies and decisions, including existing tariffs, have on the growth of U.S. clean energy industries, and how will trade topics interface with climate policies? 

Clean Energy Wins from 2019

BCSE staff look back on the year and dig into five clean energy “wins” and trends from 2019.

 

1) Congress signals continued commitment to clean energy through expanded fiscal and tax investments.

  • The budget for fiscal year 2020 saw increased funding for clean energy programs at Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, rural energy programs and international cooperation on climate change.
  • Congress also enacted a short-term extension of several clean energy tax credits, but more is needed. See BCSE statement on the 2019 end-of-year legislation.

 

2) States continue to take the lead on clean energy.

  • New York and California are proving to be test cases and first adopters for broad deployment. Minnesota, as well as Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states, including Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and others, are implementing policies and plans that will need the technologies and experience of BCSE member companies.

 

3) Resilience planning matters.

  • With rising incidences of natural disasters and rising costs of rebuilding, states and localities are turning towards clean energy solutions to enhance their resilience and reliability. The BCSE co-hosted Readiness for Resilience workshops held in Texas (July) where BCSE clean energy solutions were profiled as smart pre-disaster investments.

 

4) The U.S. private sector is leading the way on climate action.

 

5) Technology innovation is strengthening the American portfolio of existing clean energy solutions.

  • The market is always changing –guided by clear policy signals and continued investment in research, development & deployment that support clean energy. 2019 saw continued innovation in clean energy solutions – in energy storage, hydrogen and renewable natural gas and the emergence of technology trends that include a more integrated systems approach, digitalization of solutions and more.

 

Wondering what’s next? See our follow-up post on Clean Energy Questions for 2020.

 

Energy efficiency helps housing affordability, especially for low-income families

October 23, 2018 | Authors: The following is a viewpoint by Maria Stamas, Western Director of Energy Affordability with the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Andrew McAllister, a Commissioner of the California Energy Commission| 

Many of us don't spend much time thinking about how energy efficiency helps ensure our appliances aren't wasting energy and that keeping our showers warm doesn't cause our energy bills to soar. Modern technology ensures we usually don't have to think about these things. However, many families feel the pinch once the monthly utility bills arrive, and one in five households reduce or forego other necessities such as food and medicine to afford those energy payments.

These facts are especially pertinent in October, which also is known as Energy Awareness Month.

In a state that continues to face a housing affordability crisis, with a fast-rising homelessness population, energy efficiency is a frequently-overlooked strategy to help California families stay on top of their bills. Deep energy efficiency savings — on the order of an easily achievable 20 to 30 percent per property — also help maintain and preserve affordable rental homes for low-income Californians.

For example, nonprofits that manage affordable housing must operate their properties close to the margin to maintain affordability, so rising energy and water costs can lead to deferred maintenance. Left unchecked, rising energy costs can compromise the quality and long-term affordability of rental homes for low-income Californians and can even lead to health risks for these families.

Enormous potential benefits

According to a new report from Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA), these deep energy savings are also cost-effective. If the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approves funding for all cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities focused on low-income, multifamily homes — like apartments and townhomes — the potential benefits are enormous, amounting to 4 times as much savings per household than current program performance. From now through 2030, Californians' utility bill savings would add up to as much as $200 million. For low-income families juggling rent payments alongside energy costs, these savings can make a world of difference.

For years, many of California's energy efficiency programs have been geared toward commercial, government and institutional buildings, and to Californians in single-family homes. These programs have often excluded residents in multifamily housing, where at least one in three eligible Californians resides.

Before and during his recent Global Climate Action Summit, Governor Jerry Brown signed numerous bills into law which, together, will extend California's leadership in the fight against climate change by reducing emissions from our buildings and transforming our energy supply systems to be fully renewable. Yet as we continue to lead, we need to guarantee that every single Californian can benefit from the clean energy economy.

Fighting climate change, pollution

A recent poll commissioned by EEFA revealed robust support for these ideas. California voters care about efficiency for numerous reasons, most notably to fight climate change and reduce the health impacts of pollution in our neighborhoods. Respondents voiced strong commitment to ensuring that renters and low-income Californians get the same energy efficiency program support as homeowners.

The majority of those polled said they would be willing to tack on an extra 50 cents or one dollar to each monthly power bill to help low-income and working-class families make their homes more efficient. This open-minded, forward-thinking mentality is part of what makes Californians who we are.

Energy efficiency creates a diverse array of solid, non-exportable jobs. The energy efficiency industry already employs 310,000 Californians, more than double those in the fossil fuel industry. Redoubling our efforts on low-income multifamily buildings would create an additional 84,000 year-long jobs or 6,000 long-term jobs. Imagine the benefits of having skilled workers from low-income areas improving the buildings in those same communities.

As we push to slash the energy use of our existing buildings by "decarbonizing" them — along with everything else in our economy — we cannot overlook low-income families. With slimmer energy expenses, Californians can save money that can be dedicated toward housing and other essentials. This October, as we recognize the often-forgotten role energy plays in the California Dream, let's also think big about how we can forge a clean economy that is inclusive enough to help us reach our most ambitious goals. ‎

This article was originally published on Utility Dive on October 15, 2018 and has been re-posted with permission.

BCSE Quarterly Connection: Summer 2018

BCSE Quarterly Connection: Summer 2018

In this issue:

President’s View: New Federal Climate Policies Emerge

July has seen a resurgence of attention to federal climate change policy and carbon pricing – with energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy technologies at the center of the solution set.  With the introduction of a carbon tax bill in the House of Representatives, the Market Choice Act, by Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), and the launch of coalitions focused on elevating federal policy responses to both greenhouse gas reduction and enhancing resilience from natural disasters, new political coalitions are emerging.  This provides significant opportunities for the Council to shape policies to ensure that initiatives cost-effectively reduce emissions and help communities prepare for the impacts of climate change using the broad portfolio of clean energy technologies.  BCSE has long supported federal legislative action on an economy-wide, market-based approach to address climate change.  As new industries and stakeholders are coming to the table with ideas on policy and non-policy drivers to accelerate action, the Council’s history of crafting market-based programs is ready to share its expertise in this new round of action.

BCSE Communications Network Shares Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Communications

These days there are almost too many ways to connect with your clients, contacts and target audiences. Here are a few tips to consider doing what you already do, but just a little bit better, courtesy of the BCSE Communications Network.

  • E-mail subject lines with 29-39 characters get the best click through numbers; 4-15 characters get best open rate.
  • A/B test your content – try different times or subject lines for e-mails and different graphics and text for paid advertisements on social media.
  • Video. Video. Plus, a little humor every now and then on social media will boost your likes.
  • Make sure your website has a privacy policy and notification about cookies.
  • Get consent from your contacts to e-mail them, especially if they live in Europe.

The BCSE Communications Network has been spending its summer diving deep into a range of topics, including expanding digital media reach, effective emails campaigns, and managing data & privacy policies.  The above tips have emerged from this lunch & learn series, which will continue in the Fall.  For more information, please contact Laura Tierney ([email protected]).

Hear the Chorus of Climate Action at Upcoming Global Climate Action Summit

San Francisco, California, will be hosting upwards of 50,000 people the week of September 10 at the Global Climate Action Summit.  The Summit will be accompanied by over 350 affiliate events that week, held by leaders from cities, states, businesses, and other stakeholders.  This includes events by the BCSE, the Alliance to Save Energy, PG&E Corporation, the U.S. Green Building Council, WRI’s Building Efficiency Accelerator and many more.  Details on these events will be made public by mid to late August.

The aim of the summit is to demonstrate a commitment to climate action by sub-national actors, and to pressure national governments to do more on climate change. The Summit, from September 12-14 is co-chaired by California Governor Jerry Brown, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, UN Special Envoy Michael Bloomberg, Mahindra Group’s Anand Mahindra and China’s Climate Change Minister Xie Zhenhua.  The Summit will focus on five cross-cutting challenge areas: healthy energy systems, inclusive economic growth, sustainable communities, land and ocean stewardship, and transformative climate investments.  Find out the latest on the Summit website or contact Laura Tierney ([email protected]) for more information.

BCSE Resilience and Reliability Dialogue Highlights Need for Education and Better Quantification of Benefits

Starting in May, the Council launched a strategic initiative on resilience and reliability.  The purpose of the initiative is to capture the breadth and scope of these important market drivers for BCSE industries and to share information gaps and policy ideas with decision-makers at the federal, state and local level. A member-only Thought Leaders Series began this spring with guest speakers from the National League of Cities, the National Governors Association, MIT, the Department of Energy as well as leading land management and national security experts.

Key take aways from these discussions have been that resilience and reliability are intertwined, but have distinct aspects.  Further, the conversations have highlighted the need for policymakers to be educated on the economic and human health benefits of pre-disaster and post-disaster resilience investments, and that better tools to quantify the

benefits are needed.  As this effort progresses, BCSE will release a coalition brief of this topic and will continue to advocate for federal legislation to enhance resilience and reliability.

Congress Considers Disaster Recovery Reform as 2018 Hurricane & Wildfire Seasons Begin

The partnership with BCSE and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) has been positive as the two organizations continue working together to advocate in support of disaster recovery reform and resilience provisions in various pieces of legislation.  BCSE and NASEO, along with BCSE members such as the US Green Building Council (USGBC), have been working to add the Senate version of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), S.3041, as an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Bill, HR 4. The provisions in the DRRA represent a national focus on pre-disaster mitigation and response measures that - for the first time - will ensure the United States will be better prepared for disasters by advancing electric grids, power supplies and building stock that are reliable, more resilient, agile, cost effective, cyber-secure, and environmentally sound.

NARUC Events Provide Opportunity for Partnerships with Clean Energy Stakeholder Groups

BCSE members met with utility commissioners from the mid-Atlantic region at breakfast sessions held during the  June meeting of the Mid Atlantic Regulatory Utility Commissioners (MACRUC) in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Members of the Clean Energy Business Network (CEBN) and GridWise Alliance joined the Council to share information and updates on our work, while commissioners from Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and the U.S. Virgin Islands addressed pressing topics from their states. In addition to the breakfast sessions, BCSE continued its very popular sponsorship of a photographer at the MACRUC President’s Installation Dinner. BCSE also co-sponsored a clean energy industry reception at the National Association of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners (NARUC) meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, in July along with AEE, ACORE, AWEA, CERES, GridWise Alliance, and SEIA.

Clean Air Subcommittee Tracks Carbon Pricing, EPA Developments

Over the past several weeks, the BCSE Clean Air Subcommittee has held meetings to learn more about the landscape of carbon pricing policies at the state level and what’s being proposed at the federal level. Dan Delurey, President of the Wedgemere Group, gave an overview of both the state policy landscape and the various groups working on carbon pricing. These include the Climate Leadership Council, the Citizens Climate Lobby, and others. Catrina Rorke of the Climate Leadership Council will speak at the next Clean Air meeting on August 6 about their carbon price proposal. The Council is also reviewing its climate change policy statement, with an eye toward updating the principles to reflect members’ current priorities.

BCSE and its members also continue to follow several regulations expected to be acted on by EPA in the coming weeks and months. As Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler begins his leadership of the EPA, many expect that the EPA’s agenda will remain largely unchanged, but that his approach will be different and more transparent than his predecessor. The administration’s proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan is expected in the late summer or early fall, and the revised Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards could come as early as this week.

Conference Negotiations over Spending Bills and Farm Bill Programs Address Clean Energy

House and Senate conference negotiations continue over a three bill “minibus” that includes the Energy and Water Development, Veterans Affairs, Military Construction and Legislative Branch Appropriations Bills. Congress is hopeful the “minibus” will be signed into law before the end of the current fiscal year in September. Appropriators were able to address a shortfall for veterans’ health care which made progress on the rest of the bill possible.  BCSE has weighed in with conferees regarding our funding priorities for the Department of Energy in the three bill “minibus.” BCSE has also weighed in on a second, four bill “minibus,” which includes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, along with other agencies. That bill is expected to be passed by the Senate before the August Recess and go to conference in September. Funding levels for BCSE priorities in both “mini-buses” are positive.
 
In addition to the funding bills, the House and Senate are going to conference to reauthorize the Farm Bill this summer. BCSE has been advocating in support of rural energy programs and for the continuation of modest, cost-effective investment.  Farm Bill energy title programs provide the means for agriculture-based entrepreneurs to launch initiatives to generate jobs and economic development – from wind, geothermal, hydro and solar power, to biogas and advanced biofuels, to biopower, bio-based products, renewable chemicals, and energy efficiency.  The energy title has enabled farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses to become more self-sufficient, and bring high-value products to market.

New Member Spotlight:
Capital Power

BCSE recently welcomed a new member to the coalition: Capital Power. Capital Power Corporation is an independent power generation company based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Capital Power develops, acquires, and operates power generation from a variety of energy sources, including natural gas and wind, in Canada and the United States.

Clean Energy Business Network's Faces Behind the Facts

 The Clean Energy Business Network released 5 new profiles in July for the ongoing Faces Behind the Facts series, which tells the stories of business leaders behind the trends in the 2018 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. Learn how BioJoe and Beth Renwick grew one of the southeast’s leading biodiesel companies out of their garage, Matthew Goss went from pit crew member to energy consultant, and Jim Newman became the “Dean of Green.” See these fresh new faces.

Featured Event: National Clean Energy Week

Washington, DC - September 24-28
The BCSE is pleased to announce this year’s National Clean Energy Week (NCEW) will take place in Washington, DC, during the week of September 24. The second annual NCEW will include a full day symposium, associated dinners, a young professionals reception, and more.

For additional details and the full schedule, please visit www.nationalcleanenergyweek.org.