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BCSE In Action


BCSE 2016 Spring Newsletter
Quarterly Connection, Vol. 20

President's View: Corporations Expand Investments in Clean Energy

Corporate buyers of clean energy doubled their level of investment over the past two consecutive years and 2015 saw 3.5GWs in purchases in 2015. Whether it be renewable energy, such as biomass, hydropower, geothermal, wind or solar – or combined heat and power (CHP) or fuel cells, companies from a range of sectors are looking at energy prices and options as they consider where to invest. Companies like Walmart, Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, Google, General Motors, among others are leading players. Their investments shows that clean energy is affordable and reliable and key to their business planning.

This news was a major theme of the 2016 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook and a key discussion point at BCSE’s annual Clean Energy Forum in Washington, DC in March. BCSE hosted an expert dialogue on the topic that featured a panel of BCSE members from Doosan’s fuel cell business, First Solar’s marketing division, Solar Turbine’s CHP business and the American Wind Energy Association.

The conversation continued at the first ever West Coast Sustainable Energy in America Factbook Briefing a few days later, with panelist from Bloom Energy, Google and PG&E.

Both discussions showcased the range of contracts and partnerships that are developing as more energy users get into the clean energy game. They are more aware of the dramatic cost reductions in technology and new ways to procure the energy options they seek.

Most importantly, they are sharing this knowledge with their peers and we can only expect another sharp increase in corporate purchasing of clean energy in the years to come.

The BCSE’s 2016 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook showed that 2015 was a watershed year for clean energy sectors. Energy productivity was up, natural gas had a record year for production, consumption and storage, and renewable energy was again on the rise. The portfolio of readily-available clean energy technologies is growing and is well-positioned in 2016.

Energy Bill Passes Senate by a Large Margin

On a vote of 85-12 the Senate passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act, S. 2012 on April 20. The energy legislation includes a number of provisions supported by the Council, including energy efficiency provisions championed by Senators Rob Portman and Jeanne Shaheen, and provisions to streamline licensing of hydroelectric projects.

The Senate also agreed to include the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Act, or SAVE Act, as part of the energy legislation. With no federal budget costs, mandates, or bureaucracies, the SAVE Act would bring transparency, accuracy, and security to the home appraisal and mortgage underwriting processes, help finance energy efficient homes and retrofits, and create vitally needed jobs in local markets.

The Council applauds Senators Murkowski and Cantwell as well as Senate Leadership for scheduling a vote on this important bill.

Senator Murkowski has said she is hoping to convene a formal conference with the House soon to negotiate differences between S.2012 and the House-passed energy legislation, HR 8. BCSE will continue to advocate for provisions important to BCSE members during conference.

Business Backs Signing of the Landmark Paris Agreement

J.Kerry.pngOn April 22, 177 countries signed the Paris Agreement, 15 formally joined and 19 announced intent to join this year. The BCSE and over 100 companies expressed its support of the signing and the swift implementation of low-carbon policies in the US, including the Clean Power Plan.

The Business Backs Low-biz backs.pngCarbon USA (www.lowcarbonusa.org) statement shows that a broad diversity of American business is behind the transition to a low-carbon economy, which is already well underway here in the US.

The next step of “entry into force” of the agreement requires at least 55 countries representing 55% of global emissions to officially join or ratify the Agreement. The US and China have already expressed their intention to do so.

Factbook Opens up New Opportunities for Educational Outreach to State Regulators

The Sustainable Energy in America Factbook continues to open up opportunities for educational outreach to new state audiences, including the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA), the large and important National Association of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners (NARUC) Electricity Committee, and the NARUC Energy Resources and Environment Committee, the 17 states signing onto the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future, and the National Governors’ Association (NGA).

The Council presented a webinar on the Factbook to two key committees of NARUC: the Energy Resources and Environment Committee (ERE); and the Electricity Committee. The March 30 webinar represented the first time the Council has been asked to officially present to the Electricity Committee. Attendees on the webinar included a number of state utility commission chairs from across the country. BCSE members from the renewable energy, energy efficiency, and natural gas industries, used this opportunity to share information about industry trends to these key state regulators.

Representatives from 20 different state environment and air quality agencies participated in a Factbook presentation to NACAA Global Warming Committee on April 13. NACAA conveyed their appreciation for the informative Factbook presentation and thanked Council staff for tailoring the presentation to their members, many of whom are typically less familiar with energy topics. Highlights from the presentation included: information about low prices of clean energy; the impact of energy efficiency policies; increased energy productivity coupled with growth in the U.S. gross domestic product; and greenhouse gas emission trends.

The Council has also presented the Factbook findings to representatives of states which signed the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future. During this meeting, the Factbook received a shout out from National Governors’ Association staff who said they use the Factbook all the time and keep a copy on their desk.

Efforts Continue to Extend Clean Energy Tax Measures Before Year’s End

Despite positive assurances and high hopes, the Senate has passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill without including any extensions of clean energy tax measures. Senate leaders made the decision to slim down the revenue title after talks fell apart in mid-April. The tax title was limited to provisions that fund FAA operations.

Senate champions have indicated they will continue to push for the clean energy tax extensions and that there may be an opportunity to include them in legislation later this year. BCSE will continue to monitor the situation and will coordinate with Federal Policy Committee members to discuss our advocacy strategy.

Clean energy technologies for which tax extensions will be needed include: combined heat and power (CHP), microturbines, fuel cells, small wind, biomass, geothermal, landfill gas, waste to energy, hydropower, marine and hydrokinetic, and energy efficiency credits.

Clean Energy and Tech Firms Join States and Cities to Support the CPP in Legal Action

Following the stay issued in February by the Supreme Court on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), many lawmakers, cities and businesses filed amicus briefs in support of the CPP at the end of March and beginning of April. Large tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft filed a ‘tech amici’ endorsing the CPP. Several BCSE members also filed, joining clean energy providers, energy companies, and some utilities. Following the filing of this amicus briefs, here is an expected timeline of court proceedings going forward:

  • June 2016: DC Circuit to hear oral arguments
  • Summer 2016: DC Circuit expected to issue a decision. The losing side is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court. The appeal could be delayed if the losing side first requests en banc review of DC Circuit.
  • 2017-2018: Supreme Court expected to issue a decision either upholding or vacating the rule, or remanding portions back to EPA.

BCSE is continuing its work on the CPP at the federal level. We are hopeful that EPA will release information that shares its direction with regard to its final CPP federal plan and model state rule. BCSE also has heard that EPA will likely release more details on the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) that was included in the final CPP rule in August 2015. Some of the design elements of the CEIP were included in the final rule, but additional elements of the program still need to be defined.

Accelerating the Global Clean Energy Revolution at CEM7

CEM7.jpgSilicon Valley is recognized as a global hub of the clean energy industry and venture capital, and is the ideal place to host nations eager to accelerate the global clean energy revolution. Energy ministers from the 24 countries of the 7th Clean Energy Ministerial will gather June 1 – 2 in San Francisco, CA at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. This event is viewed as a first milestone that translates the political will achieved at COP 21 with the Paris Agreement into implementation and action. A technology showcase of clean energy solutions will fill a tented Union Square. Sub-national governments that are signatories to the Under 2 MOU will gather in a parallel event.

Join the BCSE at the June 2 Public-Private Action Day. For more information, please contact Laura Tierney ([email protected]).

The Man in Black to Highlight BCSE Summer Activities at NARUC

The clean energy industry reception at the summer committee meetings of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in Nashville, TN will feature southern food and southern hospitality, at the Johnny Cash Museum. High expectations for the July 24 reception are based on record attendance at recent events, including the fact that over 25 commissioners from 18 jurisdictions attended BCSE’s last clean energy industry reception in Washington, DC in February, including commission chairs, the chair of NARUC, and the chair of Canada’s Energy and Utility Regulators (CAMPUT). BCSE has taken a leadership role in organizing the clean energy industry receptions over the past several years and our sponsorship list has been growing.

The trust and relationships BCSE has developed over the past several years is evidenced by the fact that the Council has been asked to help organize a panel to educate commissioners about energy efficiency financing at the summer committee meeting. The panel will be moderated by Commissioner Jim Gardner of Kentucky, outgoing chair of the Energy Resources and Environment (ERE) Committee.

BCSE will also sponsor a breakfast to be held during the Nashville NARUC meeting.

Our summer will kick off at the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (MACRUC) meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia, June 19-22. We will host a breakfast session and will sponsor activities in conjunction with the MACRUC president’s installation dinner.

Despite Stay, State Clean Power Plan Processes Continue

Despite the stay issued by the Supreme Court in early February on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), many states across the US are continuing to move forward with compliance planning. BCSE continues to be actively engaged in Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia, all of which are continuing compliance planning in some fashion. However, in some of these states, the legislature is trying to stop or slow compliance planning until the stay is lifted, which is causing some shifts in lead agencies involved in the planning processes.

As a recent example, BCSE attended the Nevada New Energy Industry Task Force (NEITF) committee on Clean Energy Sources on April 15 to help draw attention to the continued business support for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The Task Force was formed in February and has been named the lead entity on compliance planning at this time. Prior to the stay, the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection had been taking the lead with compliance planning.

The Task Force has a number of committees for subjects related to a holistic review of Nevada’s energy infrastructure, regulations and policies. The individual committees are charged with coming up with specific policy recommendations for the office of Governor Brian Sandoval’s Office of Energy to consider prior to the next legislative session.

BCSE has encouraged the Clean Energy Sources Technical Advisory Committee of the Task Force to continue to consider compliance planning as part of its work this spring. If the stay is lifted, it is not guaranteed that states will receive extra time for planning, in addition, consideration of the CPP will only further the goals of the Task Force as a whole.

The Council has also been active in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Virginia, providing similar messaging to policymakers and thought leaders in those states. States should utilize the lull in activity as a result of the stay to consider the complex issues associated with energy planning and develop the best path forward using the full portfolio of clean energy technologies available to them.