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BCSE In Action

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BCSE 2014 Fall Newsletter
Quarterly Connection, Vol. 14

President’s View: Extending Clean Energy Tax Credits Key to Jobs and Deployment

Companies and investors need stable, predictable federal tax policy to create jobs, invest capital, and deploy pollution-reducing energy technologies. Allowing clean energy tax provisions to languish undermines investor confidence and jeopardizes continued economic and environmental benefits. Clean energy tax measures have bipartisan support and have a proven track record of helping to scale up production and drive down the cost of clean energy technologies, thereby ensuring that market-ready technologies are deployed to their full potential.

Tax policy has a major impact on US energy sector investment and several clean energy tax measures that have been effective deployment drivers and job creators are at risk. With the 113th Congress coming to an end, clean energy tax measures, along with a large list of other tax provisions, have either expired or are poised to expire on December 31st. To urge Congress and the Obama Administration to act, BCSE is working with a growing coalition of U.S. industries and stakeholders that are calling for extension of the expired and expiring clean energy tax provisions this year.

You can make your voice heard by signing on to a letter to Congress expressing support for the EXPIRE Act and urging its quick enactment. Please sign on to the letter here and join our push to ensure continued US clean energy investment and jobs.

State & the Proposed Clean Power Plan

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan is an opportune pathway for the increased deployment of the clean energy technologies that make up the BCSE membership – energy efficiency, natural gas, and renewable energy.

At BCSE’s Fall Membership meeting, the Council heard remarks from Sarah Dunham, EPA’s Director of the Office of Atmospheric Programs, Office of Air and Radiation on the many options the states have for determining their state plans for compliance. She noted the proposed rule is intended to integrate energy, environmental, and economic goals. Sarah Dunham also discussed with the Council some of the comments and recommendations EPA has been receiving thus far on the proposed rule regarding the four buildings blocks, enforceability, and credit for early action on reducing emissions, to name a few. In addition, the Council heard remarks from Commissioner Kelly Speaks-Backman of the Maryland Public Service Commission and Miles Keogh with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) on how states are viewing implementation of the proposed Clean Power Plan.

BCSE plans to submit comments to the EPA on the proposed Clean Power Plan at the end of November, prior to the December 1st deadline. The Council will then shift its focus to engage in more state-specific outreach on the proposed rule. In partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), BCSE will provide a number of states with an in-depth look at the current status of clean energy costs and deployment trends. Educating states on the clean energy markets is key to implementing the Clean Power Plan and creating a low carbon economy for the US.

Tax Extenders at Forefront of Lame Duck Session

Speculation Dominates Opportunity for Progress

Will the Republicans take back the Senate? Will it affect progress on extending critical tax incentives for clean energy or authorizing the federal budget? These are key questions that are hovering above Washington until after the November 4th election, and quite possibly through December.

When the 113th Congress returns for a lame duck session on November 12th, the first order of business will be organization for the 114th Congress and leadership elections. After the Thanksgiving holiday, it is hoped that the lame duck Congress will move to swiftly enact tax extenders legislation. Additionally, Congress will need to pass legislation to continue to fund the federal government beyond the December 11th expiration of the current continuing resolution.

Until then, all eyes are on the November 4th election. Although congressional analysts are predicting that the outcome of the election – and its impact on which party controls the Senate – may not be known until December or even early January when the states of Louisiana and Georgia hold anticipated runoff elections for their Senate seats. The outcome of this year’s mid-term election and the congressional leadership elections will determine what gets done in the lame duck, and there is a lot of speculation about various scenarios for action.

Taking Action to Champion Clean Energy

In the lead-up to the lame duck, BCSE has been actively engaged in outreach to Congress to advocate in support of tax extenders legislation - in meetings with House and Senate leadership, members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, as well as clean energy champions from both parties who are not on the tax writing committees.

BCSE has been meeting with offices as part of our own coalition, as well as two other coalitions that have formed around the passage of tax extenders legislation. The EXPIRE coalition, which the BCSE has been helping to coordinate, is a group of clean energy businesses, trade associations, and environmental groups, advocating for extension of the clean energy measures in the Senate Finance Committee-passed tax extenders legislation, the EXPIRE Act. BCSE has also been participating with a broad coalition of businesses and trade associations advocating in support of all the expiring tax provisions, ranging from charitable contributions to business tax measures.

Since decisions regarding the tax extenders legislation are likely to be made by House and Senate Leadership as well as the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the tax writing committees, BCSE encourages its members to reach out on their own to Members of Congress to encourage them to let House and Senate Leadership know the importance of swiftly enacting tax extenders legislation through the end of 2015.

BCSE Members Prepare for NARUC Conference

The Council will continue its engagement with state utility commissioners at the upcoming National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Annual Meeting, November 16-18 in San Francisco. The aim of these efforts is to highlight the market rules, practices, and policies that can expand the use of a wide range of clean energy technologies in states across the country.

On November 17, the BCSE is joining forces with other clean energy organizations – including the Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), CERES, Energy Storage Association (ESA), the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), as well as Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to host a reception for utility commissioners, commission staff, and stakeholders during the annual meeting. This event will be held at the PG&E Pacific Energy Center, which features working displays of new technologies that are making buildings smarter and more efficient.

On November 16, the Council will host a breakfast and a Roundtable discussion with Commissioners from across the US to discuss current issues facing their states and perspectives on a range of clean energy challenges and opportunities, including the California cap and trade program, EPA’s Clean Power Plan and uncertain federal clean energy tax measures. Roundtable participants will include Commissioner Catherine Sandoval, California Public Utility Commission, Commissioner Libby Jacobs, with the Iowa Utility Board, and others.

The San Francisco events follow successful BCSE events held at the NARUC meetings this summer which featured discussion on the proposed Clean Power Plan with BCSE members and key EPA officials including Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, and Joe Goffman, Senior Counsel.

Energizing the Climate Talks in Lima, Preparing for Paris

The Council and its members are working to capitalize on the rising wave of momentum towards a new international climate change agreement by December 2015 in Paris to showcase the positive contributions that clean energy technologies can deliver.

In Washington, the BCSE continues an important dialogue with the December 2015 UN Conference host – the Embassy of France and French Climate Change Ambassador Laurence Tubiana - on ways the private sector can engage, innovate, and help implement the details of a new agreement. On October 28th the Council convened US business leaders, the French and Peruvian Embassy, as well as the EU and US governments to discuss the private sector experience at the UN Climate Summit and ways to deepen public-private partnership on the road to Paris.

In Lima, the Council will be leading a delegation to the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention (COP20, UNFCCC) from December 1st-12th. The Council will host events that examine the opportunities that the urban built environment provides for significant energy efficiency savings; how the low-cost of clean energy technologies is changing the energy landscape in many countries; and how the co-benefits of mitigation and resilience can be realized in our energy, building and transportation infrastructure.

World Leaders, CEOS at New York Climate Summit

In late September, private sector executives and world leaders, including President Barack Obama gathered for the Secretary General’s UN Climate Summit in New York City. Executives from BCSE members Alstom, Ingersoll Rand, Johnson Controls and Jupiter Oxygen Corporation offered the following comments in advance of their participation in the Summit; and the Council outlined the importance of global leadership on climate to advance deployment of clean energy solutions.

Now following the Summit, as countries are preparing their contributions to a new climate change agreement, the Council is working with governments to:

  • Deliver policy and financing commitments by governments on the road towards COP21 in Paris.
  • Continue active dialogue and partnership with the private sector. The private sector offers a wealth of leadership and innovation that needs to be more formally brought into the process.
  • Recognize market-based mechanisms and a price on carbon as part of the solution. The use of market-based mechanisms and the pricing of carbon need to be recognized and supported in a new climate agreement. Their use will allow for cost-effective clean energy mitigation and adaptation solutions to be more broadly deployed.
  • Design domestic policies that prioritize clean energy and energy efficiency. Setting these priorities will create market signals that will drive large-scale investments into clean energy sectors. Although these technology solutions are commercially-available, investment has been on the sidelines. The creation of the enabling environments that offer safe, secure investment opportunities is critical.

BCSE Views on US Energy Infrastructure

The long-term strength, flexibility, and resilience of the US energy system requires investment in US energy infrastructure. This was a guiding principle that helped shape the BCSE’s submission to the US Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) this fall.

As the US energy transformation continues towards greater use of low-carbon resources and more efficient energy production and consumption, the integration of these technologies requires new grid functionality and energy infrastructure planning and investment. The optimization of these existing assets will be essential to ensure the delivery of clean, reliable, and affordable energy to families and businesses.

With significant input from BCSE members and partners, the Council’s comments include industry specific recommendations and also areas where the government can maximize and leverage its positive impact on the US transmission and distribution infrastructure with a multi-stakeholder approach, in partnership with the private sector.

Read the Council’s full comments here. Next up - Phase II of QER will take a look at power generation and energy efficiency.