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BCSE In Action

July 15, 2014

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BCSE Summer Newsletter
Quarterly Connection, Vol. 13

President's View: Technology Solutions Centerpiece of Proposed Clean Power Plan

The release of the proposed Clean Power Plan by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on June 2 puts clean energy generation and energy efficiency at the center of the federal approach to power plant greenhouse gas regulation.The Council supports the proposal's focus on flexible compliance strategies using a combination of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy to reduce emissions cost-effectively and reliably.

As we have seen tracked in the BCSE-Bloomberg New Energy Finance Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, a revolution is transforming how the US produces, delivers and consumes energy. The mix of supply is changing faster than many might have expected, with low-carbon sources gaining market share. At the same time, energy consumption is down, despite overall economic growth. This means that implementing the new limits on greenhouse gas emissions will be easier than some have suggested.

Further, decisions made in corporate boardrooms, on Wall Street and on Main Streets across the United States give us confidence that the business sector has never been better prepared than we are today to step up to the challenge of climate change.

The proposed Clean Power Plan opens the door for a long-overdue, nationwide discussion about how to ensure a reliable and affordable power system while addressing the growing risks we face due to climate change. BCSE members stand ready to meet the challenges ahead in refining and implementing the Clean Power Plan. Key to success will be establishing clear and stable market signals across the country that will drive investment in the diverse portfolio of available clean energy resources, products and services.

Can Business Deliver Action on International Climate Change Stage?

As the world looks towards a December 2015 Paris deadline for a new global accord on climate change, “Business” is increasingly being turned to for its commitment to address the changing climate and to contribute to this effort. Governments realize that they cannot do it alone, but too often those processes fall short of sending the necessary policy and investment signals in the timely fashion that business needs.

The Council steps in to help bridge those gaps, and is working to build a dialogue between US business and the French government here in Washington, DC, and to encourage the continuation of focus on technology solutions from the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors at the international negotiations. The BCSE is working with the US government to provide the business perspective on questions of a 2025 versus a 2050 target date for a new international agreement and what are practical levels of ambition, given the science.

Next up on the road to Paris is the UN Climate Summit in New York City on September 23, a meeting of world leaders where the UN Secretary General hopes to galvanize political momentum and demonstrate action by countries and corporations alike. The World Bank is leading a call to put a Price on Carbon. Public-private partnerships under Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), specifically in the areas of energy efficiency are beginning to take root. The aim is to accelerate uptake of energy efficiency, and for example, at the Summit the plan is to have ten cities announce collaborative efforts in building efficiency.

CTCN Hits New Phase

The Council is pleased to announce that it is one of the newest members of the network of the Climate Technology Center & Network (CTCN). The CTCN is a key institution created by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to deliver technical assistance and best practices to help developing countries meet their mitigation and adaptation needs.

The CTCN formally opened its doors in early 2014, and by June had received six requests from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Chile, Colombia, Honduras and Pakistan for assistance on topics including renewable energy policies, public transportation, biodiversity monitoring, and saving mangrove forests for coastal protection.

BCSE Captures Smiles at MACRUC

As part of the Council’s outreach efforts to engage state utility commissioners, the BCSE sponsored a professional photographer during the June annual President’s Installation Dinner at the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (MACRUC) in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The sponsorship has been wildly successful and has increased BCSE’s profile with commissioners and staff throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

BCSE actively engages with utility commissioners at these major annual meetings in an effort to showcase the benefits of a diverse, clean energy portfolio, and the intersection of our technologies with market rules, practices, and policies that are set at the state level. The Council also hosts private breakfast sessions, providing an opportunity for members, Commissioners and senior federal officials to discuss relevant policy topics – such as the proposed Clean Power Program. Breakfasts at the MACRUC meetings in June were attended by Joe Goffman, Associate Assistant Administrator & Senior Counsel in EPA’s office of Air and Radiation; and commissioners and staff from key states, including Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia. At an upcoming breakfast at the summer committee meetings of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in Dallas, Texas will host Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator, Office or Air and Radiation, EPA.

BCSE and the Building Blocks – Clean Power Program focuses on Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Natural Gas

On June 2, the EPA released its proposed rule to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. In response, the Council released a statement calling attention to how the proposal includes flexible implementation for states and encourages the use of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors as compliance options.

This summer offers an opportunity for review of the proposed rule and to offer comments by October 16th on how it can be improved. In recent meetings with senior officials at EPA, CEQ, and OMB, the Council and its members have been urged to send in detailed comments with their industry concerns and clarifications. Public hearings commence at the end of this month and BCSE will be speaking at the second day of the Washington, DC hearing on July 30th.

The readily available, clean energy resources and technologies represented by BCSE membership have the potential to be the most fundamental components to the successful implementation of the Clean Power Plan. BCSE member expertise will be showcased in the Council’s comments to the EPA in order to help ensure a clear path forward.

Timeline BCSE Actions regarding the Clean Power Plan Proposal

  • July 24, 2014: Next BCSE Clean Air Subcommittee Meeting – focus on member efforts in preparation for the development of BCSE coalition comments
  • July 30, 2014: EPA Public Hearing in Washington, DC on the Clean Power Plan (BCSE has 10:00 am time slot to speak)
  • End of August 2014: BCSE distributes draft of comments
  • October 16, 2014: Deadline for comments in the Federal Register
  • June 1, 2015: Final rule announced
  • June 30, 2016: Initial state plans due (*Extensions may be offered pending approval)
  • June 30, 2017: Final state plans due
  • June 30, 2018: Multi-state plans submitted
  • June 1, 2020: Proposed start of interim goal performance period (2020-2029)
  • June 1, 2030: Proposed start of final goal performance period

Congressional Efforts Continue to Extend Tax Measures

Two tax amendments of interest to BCSE members are being considered as part of the negotiations around the must-pass highway funding bill. Those amendments include Chairman Wyden's EXPIRE Act, which contains a package of tax extenders, and an amendment being offered by Senator Cantwell addressing the solar commence construction “fix.”

BCSE has supported the EXPIRE Act and Cantwell amendment and has advocated in support of the measures throughout the Finance Committee process.

Late last month Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) suspended a markup of short-term highway funding legislation until after the July 4th congressional recess in order to give Senators time to work with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) to reach a bipartisan and bicameral agreement. Members in both chambers are under pressure to act before the end of July because the Highway Trust Fund is projected to run out of money later this summer and Congress is in recess during the month of August.

BCSE Advocates for Consistent EERE Funding in FY2015 Appropriations

Despite a desire to move the Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations bills in regular order, time on the legislative calendar is running out. The House of Representatives passed H.R.4923 on Thursday, July 10 after two days of debate. Funding for DOE’s loan guarantee program was maintained, but there were a number of concerning amendments passed with the bill that work to undermine the Administration’s climate agenda. With the inclusion of these amendments there would likely be opposition to the bill by the Administration and the Senate and would be unlikely to remain in a final version. Please find a full list of amendments here.

The Appropriations process has an unclear path moving forward. It is unlikely the House E&W bill will be taken up by the Senate as they did not pass their own energy and water spending bill last month and they are stalled over an amendment to the Senate Appropriations bill offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to deny funding to move forward with EPA’s proposed carbon regulations for existing power plants. It is unclear how Congress will proceed on Appropriations and several possibilities are in the mix: a continuing resolution which would fund government programs at current levels beyond the 2014 fiscal year; one omnibus funding bill; one or more “mini” buses; or some combination of the three options.

BCSE has been advocating for stable and consistent funding for programs within the Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and has shared the 2014 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook with Members of Congress to support that request and show the value of taxpayer dollars invested in those programs.

BCSE has also sent a letter to members of the House Science Committee opposing legislation which would dramatically reduce funding authorized for R&D at the Department of Energy.

House Moves on Energy Efficiency and CFTC Legislation

Seizing on the belief that saving energy is a conservative value, the House of Representatives has passed five “bite size” energy efficiency bills in the last several months. In March 2014, the House passed the following legislation: H.R. 2126, the Better Buildings Act (Tenant Star); a modified version of H.R. 540, the Energy Efficiency Government Technology Act; H.R. 4066 to modify efficiency standards for grid-enabled water heaters, and H.R. 3820 to encourage benchmarking in commercial buildings; and on June 23, the House passed H.R. 4801, which would require the Secretary of Energy to prepare a report on the impact of thermal insulation on both energy and water use for potable hot water.

Together, these small, but important pieces of legislation will help to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings, the federal government, and certain appliances.

The House also passed on June 23, H.R. 4413, the Consumer Protection and End-User Relief Act, to reauthorize the Commodity Future Trading Commission’s (CFTC) oversight of the futures and swap markets. The CFTC reauthorization bill included provisions sought by natural gas suppliers and publically owned utilities to ensure that energy markets are able to function efficiently and that market rules recognize the interplay between a range of clean energy technologies and resources.

BCSE sent alerts to all Hill offices in support of the energy efficiency and CFTC legislation. Eyes are now on the Senate to advance these bipartisan bills.

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint – BCSE Releases 4th Annual GHG Inventory

Now in its fourth year of conducting an organization’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory, the BCSE has amassed a solid foundation of information from which it can base its own decisions in regards to its emissions and carbon footprint. As a leader in the promotion of low-carbon technologies, it is a priority for the Council to conduct this yearly analysis and make further improvements to its emissions management. The BCSE is now able to analyze and understand the various factors that play a role in altering emissions levels from year to year and consider changes that can reduce its carbon footprint and offset emissions. New for calendar year 2013 was the inclusion of a portion of local staff travel that had not been accounted for in previous year’s inventories. This is an example of how even a small organization can use its annual GHG inventory to make improvements over time.

Additionally, BCSE moved offices in February 2014 to a building that is energy star certified and we are eager to see how this will impact the calendar year 2014 GHG inventory. BCSE looks forward to continuing the measurement and analysis of its carbon footprint and BCSE staff is happy to act as a resource to member organizations looking to account for and reduce its own GHG emissions.

Check out the “BCSE Guide to Knowing Your Emissions & Reducing Your Carbon Footprint” which takes a step-by-step look at how an organization can account for its own annual GHG emissions.