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BCSE In Action

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BCSE 2016 Winter Newsletter
Quarterly Connection, Vol. 19

President's View: A New Era for Clean Energy

2015 was a watershed year for American clean energy industries – concluding with significant policy achievements in December, with the negotiation of the Paris Agreement and extensions of the wind and solar tax credits by Congress. As we jump into 2016, with the release of the 2016 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook just weeks away, we want to share our reflections on these notable developments.

Save the Date: February 4 - Release of 2016 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook

The Council is pleased to announce the release of the fourth edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, produced in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), on February 4 in Washington, DC.

Join us for a release event at BNEF’s offices in Washington, DC from 12:00 – 2:00 pm on February 4th, registration for the event available here. A panel of executives from BCSE member companies, and analysts from BNEF will discuss why 2015 was a watershed year for the US clean energy economy, and discuss:

  • How much of the total U.S. energy production is from clean energy sources?
  • How does the U.S. rank globally in terms of clean energy investment?
  • What impact has economic growth had on energy consumption?
  • How have emissions in the U.S. been affected by changes in energy production?

Last but not least, bookmark www.bcse.org/sustainableenergyfactbook and re-visit on February 4 to get the latest clean energy industry information.

What the Paris Agreement Means for U.S. Clean Energy

The Paris Agreement is nothing short of historic for the global community and to clean energy companies and investors it signals that the era of wavering is over. Paris synthesized a crescendo of actions that has been building for many years, and in particular over the past few years, thanks to leadership of the French, Peruvian, and U.S. governments – from corporate commitments, to pledges to increase investment for clean tech R&D, to municipal and state leadership, to nationally-determined contributions (NDCs) from over 185 countries – all of which pinnacled with the Paris Agreement. We like to think of these NDCs as essentially national “clean energy plans” or the beginning of an investment roadmap. These pledges, plus the architecture for transparency and review of all country actions that the Agreement provides sends the policy certainty that our industries have been seeking for the past twenty years from this inter-governmental process.

But we will not rest here in the after-glow of the Paris Agreement. The details to be worked out this year at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be critical, from determining the rules for a market-based mechanism to the mechanics of a transparent system for reporting, monitoring and verification of country actions. These are areas where business has defined expertise, and in particular how to set objectives and meet those goals.

2016 will be a year of implementation. BCSE looks forward to the 7th Clean Energy Ministerial to be hosted June 1 – 2 in San Francisco, California, which will convene Ministers of Energy from around the world, and which can showcase the best of American clean energy innovation. BCSE Is also pleased that one of its members, Brad Johnson of Resource Mobilization Advisors will serve as a Private Sector Observer to the Green Climate Fund. This will provide BCSE will critical information on the fund’s development and opportunities to share business perspectives on decisions the GCF Board will take in 2016. We will continue to work with states around the U.S. as they develop their implementation plans for the Clean Power Plan, as well as with Congress to make sure that tax extensions cover the broader suite of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that will help our country meet both state and national policy targets.

BCSE Federal Outlook: 2015 Closes Strong, 2016 Off to Quick Start

2015 ended with notable results of some of the Council’s work including, the promulgation of the Clean Power Plan, tax policy changes particularly for the wind and solar industries, favorable legislation for the Green Climate Fund, reauthorization of the EXIM Bank, and the Paris Agreement. These successes create an opportunity to evaluate what is left to be done from our current work and to establish new priorities. BCSE’s key 2016 priorities include federal education, tax policy, action on energy legislation and the Clean Power Plan.

  • Federal Education – BCSE will continue to share information with congressional staff and agency officials regarding the 2016 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. Meetings and congressional briefings on the Factbook will be scheduled with congressional staff shortly after the Factbook is released on February 4. As part of our federal education effort, BCSE will reach out to Presidential campaigns to share information about the Factbook and will engage with campaign and transition teams from both parties when candidates in the general election have been chosen later in 2016. The Board of Directors agreed to establish a Clean Energy Infrastructure Subgroup of the Federal Policy Committee to foster education and consider advocacy activities on federal lands, transmission and natural gas infrastructure issues.
  • Tax Policy – A top priority for BCSE will be the extension of tax credits for the non-solar and non-wind technologies that were left out of the 2015 end-of-year tax package and omnibus spending bill. Trade associations - such as BCSE - become all the more critical on this issue because the field of active organizations is more limited now that some business credits have been permanently extended and long term extensions for some industries passed as part of the end-of-year package. In addition to working on tax extenders, the Council will continue discussions about tax reform, which may be considered in 2017.
  • Action on Energy Legislation – The timing for the Senate energy bill is still being determined but could come up very quickly this year. As the bill reaches the Floor, BCSE will engage in targeted outreach on issues such as the hydropower provisions, inclusion of the SAVE Act, provisions related to Energy Savings Performance Contracts and a possible tax title, among others.
  • Clean Power Plan (CPP) – The Council will continue to ensure that Congress does not impede implementation of the CPP, however the focus in 2016 has shifted to the states as they begin implementation of the CPP. Outside of a few key states, local governments are driving the shift toward clean energy. BCSE will continue to work in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Virginia as it has in 2015 and will begin looking at possible engagement with additional states and cities where BCSE members are already working.

Business & Energy Promote Clean Energy Portfolio for Compliance under the Clean Power Plan

As states are continuing their stakeholder outreach processes and beginning to develop their state compliance plans in response to the Clean Power Plan (CPP), BCSE is continuing to take its message on the road – calling for states to utilize the portfolio of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy solutions in their state compliance planning. BCSE is continuing its participation in state stakeholder meetings across the states of Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia throughout the coming months. The Council will be coordinating its own meetings with state agencies, in addition to participating on the Nevada Technical Advisory Group convened by the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) which BCSE was invited to join.

In addition, BCSE has weighed in with comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the Clean Energy Incentive Program as well as the proposed Federal Plan and Model Trading Rules, which included some of the following recommendations:

  • The Federal Plan should adopt a “trade ready” approach in either a mass-based or rate-based plan, and should consider market-based elements to ensure cost effective compliance.
  • The Federal Plan should allow the full portfolio of clean energy technologies and resources to be utilized for compliance planning. This includes rate-payer and non-rate payer programs and actions.
  • Further, if the Federal Plan allocates or auctions allowances under its plan, it should provide allowance value to clean energy technologies and resources to spur further investment and provide clean energy market signals.
  • The Federal Plan should take steps to effectively control leakage under all compliance pathways.
  • EPA should allow the same range of compliance options under the Federal Plan that are available to states developing their own plans.

The Council and its members are committed to helping states adapt clean energy solutions to each state’s unique requirements and identify other opportunities to provide input to states’ planning processes.