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BCSE In Action

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BCSE 2015 Summer Newsletter
Quarterly Connection, Vol. 17

President's View - A Summer of Action on Federal Clean Energy Policy

With the heat of DC upon us, federal policymakers are turning up the heat on critical issues impacting clean energy investment and deployment. While the final outcome of this action is uncertain, clean energy issues are front and center and are receiving bipartisan support. This demonstrates the growing recognition of the contributions that energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy play in the energy sector and their importance to the broader US economy.

On July 21st the Senate Finance Committee reported out a tax extenders package that extends critical clean energy tax incentives through the end of 2016. While the Committee bill does not address all of the Council’s requests, it did pass a two-year extension of the Production Tax Credit and several important energy efficiency and other clean energy measures. BCSE is hopeful that additional amendments will be adopted during floor consideration of the bill in early fall. Specifically, BCSE seeks policy changes including adding “start construction” language to the Investment Tax Credit and expanding Master Limited Partnerships to energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors.

Energy legislation is also moving in both the House and Senate, with markups and possible floor action on bills prior to the August congressional recess. The bills span the full spectrum of energy sectors, with over 100 bills being considered for inclusion. BCSE and its members are working with the Congress to shape the final bills to ensure that they include meaningful clean energy provisions.

The Obama Administration has placed clean energy and climate change high on its agenda this summer. The EPA is expected to release its final Clean Power Plan rule in early August. This highly anticipated rule will clarify pathways available to states to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants. BCSE has been actively working with states and EPA on the design elements needed to fully utilize energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy as compliance options.

Energy is critical to US competitiveness and clean energy solutions are playing a larger role in advancing the US economy. These trends are being reflected in the priorities of the federal government and are winning bipartisan attention. BCSE will work to build on the positive momentum with enactment of a number of federal clean energy, tax and environmental policies before year’s end.

Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Featured in Corporate Climate Pledges at White House

On July 27, the Obama Administration announced a new platform, the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, for business engagement in climate mitigation. The Act on Climate Pledge platform is aimed at elevating US corporate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as other climate-friendly sustainability initiatives.

As part of this announcement, 13 companies, including Alcoa, Apple, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, UPS, and Walmart, participated in a White House roundtable with Secretary of State John Kerry and other administration officials.

The White House estimates that the corporate commitments total at least $140 billion in new low carbon investment and more than 1,600 megawatts of new renewable energy. In addition, they include company specific goals to cut emissions as much as 50 percent, reduce water intensity as much as 15 percent, purchase 100 percent renewable energy, and to pursue zero net deforestation in supply chains.

Please see the full Factsheet released from the White House this morning regarding the announcement and specific company pledges.

Federal Energy Legislation Moves Before August Recess

Congress has been aggressively pursuing action on energy legislation in the lead up to the August Recess. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has recently released a Chairman’s mark and plans a markup of the legislation before the Senate adjourns in early August.

The House Energy and Power Subcommittee reported an energy bill on July 22 by voice vote. The House legislation removed pieces from this spring’s discussion drafts, which were considered controversial, including some pieces that were of interest to BCSE members. Provisions around building codes and the use of fossil fuel in federal buildings, for example, were removed in an effort to report the bill. No amendments were offered during the subcommittee markup.

Committee members on both sides of the aisle indicated that while the bill was modest in scope, it was a step in the right direction and includes provisions that are needed to update and modernize the electric grid and to train a new generation of workers in the energy field. Negotiations on some of the outstanding provisions are expected to continue over the August recess and are likely to be offered at the full committee markup in September.

Both the House and Senate energy bills are built around four key areas: 1) infrastructure; 2) energy efficiency; 3) production and exports; and 4) workforce training.

US Clean Energy Companies to Benefit from Access to Green Climate Fund

A vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month removed potential barriers to US funding for the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF is a new multi-lateral financial institution that will fund climate change mitigation and adaptation projects in developing countries. This bipartisan vote was secured in an amendment co-sponsored by Senators Merkley (D-OR), Kirk (R-IL) and Udall (D-NM).

The Council and its members met with these offices and others to urge support for the GCF prior to this critical vote. The GCF would help reduce financial risks associated with clean energy infrastructure projects in new markets, lower the cost of capital and attract new private sector investment into developing countries. US leadership at the GCF is critical for the sake of the Fund and for the benefit of access by American companies. The Senate appropriations vote keeps the US ability to lead at the GCF intact. The Council will continue to work with the US Department of Treasury and Congress, as well as the GCF Secretariat to build-out the opportunities for clean energy companies to engage and take advantage of these new financing mechanisms.

How to Make the Most of Your COP 21 Paris Experience

Over 40,000 people are expected to descend upon Paris, France during the first two weeks of December to watch governments hash out the new political agreement that will govern action on climate change in 2020 and beyond. The spotlight will be on clean energy solutions and the role of the private sector in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. COP 21 is a pretty big deal and the BCSE will be there. Why? Because clean energy technology solutions will help governments meet their national targets in 2025 and 2030, and as we know from the U.S. experience – the right policy and investment frameworks matter on how fast we can meet these goals.

The Council will be in the halls talking to negotiators and sharing the policy best practices and technical know-how of our members. BCSE is also providing platforms for its members to gain profile, shape policy outcomes and share their investment and deployment experiences. So what is the BCSE recommendation for making the most of your trip to Paris?

  1. Plan.
  2. Get involved. Now.
  3. Share your story (or at least have a communications strategy).

BCSE can help you prepare to get the most of this historic event. For more information about the BCSE’s plans for COP 21, please contact Laura Tierney ([email protected]). Soon.

BCSE Engages with State Utility Commissioners on Energy Planning

The Council held two sessions with state utility commissioners over the summer months to discuss energy planning across the country.

In June, the Council met with Mike Kormos, Executive Vice President for Operations at PJM during the Annual Education Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (MACRUC) in Williamsburg, Virginia. He discussed PJM’s economic analysis of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan while BCSE members provided feedback about the positive contributions of clean energy technologies.

In July, Audrey Zibelman, Chair of the New York State Public Service Commission, discussed the New York Reforming the Energy Vision (NY REV) at a BCSE breakfast meeting with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in New York City. The breakfast meeting was attended by close to 90 BCSE members, commissioners, commission staff, and other stakeholders.

The NY 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 & value.

The NY 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. Download Commissioner Zibelman’s presentation here.

Release of State Energy Factsheets Show Current Energy Landscape, Opportunities

The states of Nevada and Pennsylvania are well positioned to meet their respective state targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP). In June, the BCSE, worked with Bloomberg New Energy Finance to release State Energy Factsheets for both Pennsylvania and Nevada. The Pennsylvania Business Daily and Nevada NPR covered the releases.

Highlights include:

  • In Pennsylvania, the availability of cheap, abundant natural gas has combined with decreases in coal-fired power generation and the continued achievement of state energy policy goals to put the state in a good position to comply with the CPP draft plan.
  • In Nevada, a rise in natural gas-fired power generation, a doubling of renewable energy capacity and a declining reliance on coal are all changes well underway as the state looks to create its state plan for compliance with the proposed rule.

In Pennsylvania, Nevada, Minnesota, and Virginia BCSE is conducting multiple rounds of in-state meetings with state legislators, officials and public utility commissioners to talk about the business opportunities provided by the CPP for clean energy companies, and will continue to do so after the final rule is released later this summer.

Decreasing the Carbon Footprint - BCSE Releases 5th Annual GHG Inventory

BCSE successfully completed its 5th annual greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting and inventory for calendar year (CY) 2014. Each year the Council has worked to refine the process and cover more sources of emissions in its final inventory. As a leader in the promotion of low-carbon technologies, it is a priority for the Council to conduct this yearly analysis. 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, including procuring offsets. New for calendar year 2014 was the inclusion of all 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.

Other factors that helped reduce BCSE’s 2014 emissions included moving into smaller offices at an EnergyStar® certified building, less staff travel and updated emissions factors.

BCSE is committed 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.