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BCSE In Action

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BCSE 2015 Spring Newsletter
Quarterly Connection, Vol. 16

President's View - States: In the Driver’s Seat of the Clean Energy Transformation

In 2015, the BCSE is taking the conversation of the value on a diverse, clean energy portfolio to the states. The timing is right, as states are re-assessing their energy policies in the context of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.

Building off the success of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, the Council is again partnering with Bloomberg New Energy Finance to produce assessments of the electricity markets in four key states - and have recently released two new State Energy Factsheets this spring that look at how electricity is produced and consumed in Minnesota and Virginia as well as opportunities to increase the use of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy. Despite the distinct differences between these two states, the Factsheets affirm national trends. First, the clean energy transformation is underway. Second, that deploying more energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy will empower states to not only meet the pending carbon pollution standards, but it can also deliver economic, environmental and health co-benefits to the states.

Here are some highlights from the Minnesota and Virginia Energy Factsheets:

Minnesota

  • Minnesota has been a pioneer in the clean energy transformation, and all of the changes to their energy profile to date have unfolded while maintaining electricity rates that are on par with the region, and significantly below the national average cost of power.
  • A suite of state policies have bolstered the growth of renewable energy, primarily in wind and biomass and quickly expanding to solar; the state is ranked fifth in the nation as a leader on energy efficiency programs and policies; and it has doubled its use of natural gas in the state’s electricity mix due to falling costs.

Virginia

  • Virginia is poised to be a leader in embracing this changing energy landscape. Already, the commonwealth has moved a significant portion of its traditional energy sources to cleaner-burning natural gas. It can build upon this promising start by beefing up its commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

BCSE Welcomes New Members

Four new members have joined the Council this spring. They are: Nest Labs, ENER-G Rudox, Aclara Technologies LLC and Resource Mobilization Advisors. These leading companies span the energy services, combined heat & power, distributed energy efficiency and clean energy financing sectors. BCSE is excited to have their expertise and support in our advocacy efforts this year.

Clean Energy Solutions in the International Spotlight Leading up to the Paris Climate Negotiations

The Council is working to ensure that the voices of the clean energy technologies – the solutions that will help countries realize their mitigation and adaptation goals – have a seat at the table in the international discussions between governments, financial institutions and businesses on the shape of a new international climate change agreement. The Council is the “go to” organization for US clean energy industries to connect with these initiatives, which offer the sharing of best practices as they develop national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets and energy plans.

In late March, as part of the preparatory process for a new international climate change agreement to be reached in Paris in December, the United States formally submitted its national target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 26 - 28% over 2005 levels by 2025. The Council expressed its support for US leadership on climate, and in April called upon Congress to fund in FY2016 the US pledge to the Green Climate Fund.

As other countries offer their commitments over the coming months, the prediction is that the aggregation of all of these emissions targets will fall well short of the level of effort that is needed to keep global warming within 2 degrees Celsius. Attention will then turn to the contributions that non-national governments can make - what the private sector, cities and other stakeholders can do in the lead up to Paris. These conversations will take place at the Clean Energy Ministerial in Mexico in May, at the UN climate change conference in Bonn and the 2nd Sustainable Energy for All Summit in New York City in June, and at Climate Week in Paris in May and New York City in September and at the French Embassy in Washington, DC. Please contact Laura Tierney ([email protected]) for more details and to get involved.

New York Reforming the Energy Vision Tops BNEF’s List of Policies to Watch

At a recent State and Regional Policy Committee meeting, BCSE members received updates on the New York Reforming the Energy Vision “REV” from Greg Hale, Senior Advisor to the Chairman of Energy & Finance, in the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, as well as a company perspective on the initiative from John Leana, Director of Performance & Strategy at National Grid.

The New York REV is the state’s comprehensive State Energy Plan to enable self-sustaining clean energy markets at scale, supporting a cleaner, more reliable, and affordable energy system. Goals of the initiative are affordability, reliability, choice, control and value.

The REV was identified by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in the 2015 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook as one of the top policies around the country to watch in terms of its ability to expand clean energy markets. A copy of the REV slide presentation from the BCSE meeting can be found here.

In addition, during the National Association of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners (NARUC) summer committee meeting in New York City on Tuesday, July 14 Audrey Zibelman, Chair of the New York State Public Service Commission will be joining BCSE at a breakfast meeting to discuss the NY REV program further. The meeting will be attended by BCSE members, commissioners and other stakeholders. For further information on the breakfast meeting or BCSE’s NARUC activities, please contact Ruth McCormick ([email protected]).

BCSE Weighs in on DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Budgets

The House version of the FY2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which includes steep cuts to some programs in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), was passed by the House May 1st in a 240-177 vote. No bill is available yet in the Senate, however, action on its version of the FY2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill is expected soon.

BCSE has been advocating across a number of key congressional committees on the FY2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill. BCSE sent members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee a letter on March 24 in support of funding for EERE. That same day, BCSE Director of Federal and State Affairs, Ruth McCormick, testified before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy regarding the value of the research, development, demonstration, and commercialization activities funded through EERE.

Below is an excerpt from the testimony below:

“In recent years the United States has seen real market penetration of a wide range of sustainable energy technologies and resources and has witnessed the results of policies that work. But there is more to be done.”

“Federal investments in the form of research, development and deployment initiatives as well as federal tax incentives have expanded the energy technologies and resources available for the nation, while helping to lower energy costs and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States. These investments should be continued. “

“While technology costs have fallen, market barriers and grid integration challenges continue to hinder greater deployment of clean energy technologies. To continue the momentum of growth in these sectors, and to receive their co-benefits, long-term, stable polices will be needed to level the playing field and to provide market access to new technologies. As a neutral player, rather than one with a financial interest, DOE can help analyze policy options for deploying new energy technologies and can help streamline the processes of permitting, inspection, and interconnection of new energy technologies.“

Clean Energy Measures are Priority as Congress Considers Tax Reform

The Senate Finance Committee established a number of Tax Reform Working Groups to gather input from stakeholders, including a number of BCSE members. The Council has stressed the importance of tax measures that recognize the benefit of establishing energy incentives that are more predictable, longer-term, and that provide a level playing field. Tax reform has taken a back seat in the House Ways and Means Committee this year, where debate over trade has dominated the committee agenda. While few believe tax reform will be enacted this session of Congress, there may be opportunities to address some tax issues as part of the highway bill, if Congress addresses it later this summer. Both the Highway Account and the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund are nearing insolvency and the Highway Account is expected to become insolvent by the end of August.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ranking Member of the SENR Committee, who also sits on the Senate Finance Committee, has been a vocal champion on clean energy tax measures and has been actively seeking opportunities to move forward with a clean energy tax extenders bill. Senator Cantwell has also been raising the urgency of addressing clean energy tax policy through her leadership in crafting energy legislation, by including a tax title as part of the bill.

In addition to its Federal Policy Committee advocacy, the BCSE is helping to organize a broad coalition of industry, environmental NGOs and other stakeholders in support of action on clean energy tax measures this year. This group meets monthly and has been participating in targeted congressional outreach meetings to reaffirm the value and urgency of extending expired and expiring clean energy tax measures in any tax bill that moves.

House and Senate Energy Bills Focus on Four Key Areas

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee are planning action on energy legislation built around four key areas: 1) infrastructure; 2) energy efficiency; 3) production and exports; and 4) federal accountability. Both committees are holding hearings in the coming weeks and both the House and the Senate have indicated plans to bring legislation to the Floor before the August recess.

During the first half of March, Senate Energy and Natural Resources (SENR) Committee Majority and Minority staff held close to two dozen meetings with industry and stakeholder groups to gather input on energy priorities that may be considered as part of an energy bill in the 114th Congress. A number of BCSE members participated in these listening sessions.

BCSE continues to advocate in support of our members priorities in these key energy policy areas and in recent weeks has submitted comments for Senate hearings on the Department of Energy’s recently released QER and multiple pieces of energy efficiency legislation, as well comments submitted at a House hearing on a recently released discussion draft on energy efficiency.

Clean Energy Transformation: 2015 Factbook on the Road

The Council is hard at work taking the findings of the third edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook “on the road” by engaging a range of audiences and events around the country. These events showcase the value of our members clean energy technology solutions and the policies that enhance a clean energy transformation. Highlights from these events include:

  • Partnering with the EPA’s Combined Heat and Power Partnership and Green Power Partnerships program to host two public webinars in April, reaching over 175 individuals.
  • Tailored briefings for staff of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the Department of Energy.
  • Featuring the Factbook and related materials at industry events – from National Hydropower Association Annual Conference, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) Policy Forum and the Bloomberg New Energy Finance 2015 Energy Summit.
  • Sharing national findings to state audiences - BCSE Board Chairman Mark Wagner presented the Factbook at the annual conference for the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association in Madison, Wisconsin.

If you are interested in working with the Council to host a Factbook event, please contact Tess Riley ([email protected]). In the mean time, explore the many features of the Factbook website, and join the conversation on social media by sharing the most interesting clean energy fact to you with #Factbook.

Expanding Clean Energy Opportunities at the State Level

Minnesota. Nevada. Pennsylvania. Virginia. These are the four states that the BCSE is engaging with as they consider energy policy in the context of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP). The Council and its members are meeting with Public Utility Commissioners, Governors’ offices and environmental agencies to encourage the development of a state plan in that utilizes a broad portfolio of readily-available clean energy technologies, products and services as compliance options to the CPP.

A second round of outreach meetings in all four states are being planned for the spring and summer. In addition to producing factsheets for the four states, BCSE is working with Bloomberg New Energy Finance on the compilation of database of facts for all 50 of the states related to each state’s unique power generation profiles and to track recent trends in the deployment of energy efficiency, renewable energy and natural gas. These facts will be conveyed to Governor’s offices across the country in the coming months, providing each with information about the energy mix, and relative ranking compared to other states on clean energy deployment and carbon emissions. With these facts in hand, the Council’s work will be to highlight both the economic and environmental opportunities that compliance to the CPP can deliver, and to counter the argument that it will result only in increased electricity prices.

Please contact Zoe Berkery ([email protected]) to get involved in the Council’s educational outreach to states.