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BCSE In Action

January 23, 2013

BCSE Winter Newsletter Previews Future
Actions and Discusses Recent Accomplishments

BCSE Quarterly Connection, Vol. 7

Table of Contents

President's View: Renewed Focus on Energy and Climate Policy in 2013

With the Presidential Inauguration concluded and the 113th Congress installed, the Council is preparing for an active period across all of its program areas in 2013.

On the federal front, the BCSE is focused on appropriations, clean air, climate change and energy policy, meeting with new members of the House and Senate, as well as key committee members.  The Council commended Congress and the Administration on the long-awaited tax extenders package and is looking ahead to consider how energy tax measures might be included in comprehensive tax reform.

At the state level, outreach with state energy offices and public utility commissions continues.  BCSE seeks to provide information on the portfolio of clean energy energy resources and services available to states that are making energy and environmental compliance planning decisions. 

Finally, with a new Secretary of State to be confirmed in the coming weeks, clean energy market development and climate change policy will remain high on the US international agenda.  The Council remains the leading clean energy industry voice at critical international energy and climate change forums and will continue to advance policies and best practices that drive investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and natural gas around the world.

Helping to guide this work are five new BCSE Board members for 2013, representing companies and associations in the natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency industries. Please see the Council's 2013 Board of Directors list for more information.
 
BCSE Prepares to Launch Sustainable Energy Factbook with Bloomberg New Energy Finance on January 31

The Council is in the final stages of development on a first ever Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook. The Factbook is being compiled in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance and is a quantitative and objective resource intended to arm reporters and policy makers with up-to-date, accurate market intelligence.  The Factbook fills important data gaps in presently available information by looking at clean energy broadly defined, ranging from large-scale renewables to distributed power, demand-side energy efficiency options and natural gas. 

The Factbook was undertaken in recognition of the Council's 20 year anniversary and will be released on January 31st in Washington, DC, with a press conference, stakeholder meeting, and congressional staff briefing.  BCSE members and special guests are also invited to attend a celebratory reception that night to toast the Council's 20 year record of service to clean energy industries and the roll out of the Sustainable Energy Factbook.

BCSE Outreach Helps Extension of Clean Energy Tax Measures Get Over the Finish Line

On New Year’s Day 2013 – and at the 11th hour - Congress approved legislation (H.R.8) to address the fiscal cliff.  The legislation, entitled, “the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012” was an important victory on clean energy tax policy and  included the temporary extension of clean energy tax measures, including credits for energy-efficient existing homes, energy-efficient new homes, energy-efficient appliances, parity for the exclusion from income of employer-provided mass transit benefits and parking benefits, the extension and modification of the Production Tax Credit and modifications to the Investment Tax Credit.

Also included in the legislation was a provision establishing permanent parity in the rates for capital gains and dividends, as well as the continuation of tax-exempt bonds for municipalities.  A key feature of H.R.8 was the increase in tax rates for individuals earning more than $400,000 and households earning more than $450,000, leading some to view the legislation as a step toward tax reform. Some energy tax experts consider the clean energy tax extensions in H.R.8 as a signal that Congress will continue to  use the tax code as an energy policy tool, and characterize the extensions as a sign that Congress is warming to the idea of a tax system that establishes a level playing field in order to create an “all-of the above” energy portfolio as it looks to address comprehensive tax reform in the 113th Congress. 

H.R.8 deferred the across-the-board sequestration of funds from the federal budget for two months and did not address the debt ceiling, ensuring that cuts to federal spending will continue to be a major focus of the incoming 113th Congress.

BCSE staff and members held a steady schedule of meetings with congressional offices throughout the fall of 2012 to encourage them to extend the clean energy tax measures. The Council expects to continue with an aggressive set of Hill meetings focusing first on new Members of Congress assigned to committees of interest to the BCSE, as well as general education of the over 80 Freshmen members of the 113th Congress.  

BCSE Action Plan Designed to Focus BCSE Advocacy Efforts

The BCSE is compiling an “Action Plan” which will serve as the foundation for our advocacy work in 2013. The Action Plan will include a short summary for all the technologies in our coalition and provide technology specific descriptions, benefits and short-term deployment goals. The Action Plan will also include recommendations for state and federal policy makers. Please contact Ruth McCormick ([email protected]) for more information.

BCSE's Sustainable Energy Factbook on the Agenda at NARUC's Upcoming ERE Committee Meeting

On February 4 in Washington, DC, the BCSE and Bloomberg New Energy Finance will present the Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Energy Resources and the Environment (ERE) Committee meeting. The meeting is part of NARUC's broader winter conference agenda and will afford the BCSE the opportunity to showcase the Factbook to commissioners and others in attendance. 

The presentation is the first in a series of NARUC events the BCSE will engage in during 2013, including the continuation of the clean energy industry breakfasts that the BCSE hosted in 2012. Together, the Factbook presentation and these breakfasts will provide a forum where commissioners, commission staff and BCSE members can come together to discuss state policy issues surrounding renewable energy, energy efficiency and natural gas. For more information on the BCSE’s past involvement with NARUC and upcoming plans, please contact Colbie Holderness ([email protected]).

Doha Negotiations Start New Path to Next Climate Agreement

The Council represented the voice of clean energy industries at the UN climate change talks in Doha, Qatar, November 26 - December 7, 2012. COP18 produced a series of decisions dubbed the “Doha Gateway,” which included a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the consolidation of a single negotiation track to a post-2020 regime (to be agreed to in Paris in 2015) and the advancement of the key institutions for technology and finance.

The Council is pleased that the Climate Technology Center and Network (CTC&N) - to be led by UNEP - and the Green Climate Fund - to be hosted in Songdo, South Korea - are both now closer to being operationalized.  Both institutions will offer key entry points for BCSE members to engage the process.  These institutions will play major roles in assisting developing countries to create enabling environments to attract investment in clean energy sectors and implement their low-carbon strategies.

The Council celebrated its 20th anniversary with a special international dinner,  featuring keynote remarks from UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and the awarding of two Distinguished Leadership Awards to Julia Martinez from Mexico and Dan Reifsnyder from the United States (see press release).

Read more about the BCSE’s international climate policy positions in Accelerating Action in Doha or contact Laura Tierney ([email protected]) for more information.