Tag Archives: 2017

Tax Reform Will Be a Tipping Point for Clean Energy

In terms of investment, growth and jobs, the current stakes for tax reform couldn’t be higher for American energy producers. Clean energy generation and storage is now a $200 billion industry that supports more than 3 million jobs and hundreds of millions of consumers across the United States. With conferees now named and set to meet on the greatest tax reform package of a generation, it’s clear that our nation stands on the cusp of a major tipping point for clean energy policy.

How the House and Senate members of the conference committee come together on a few key areas will determine if clean energy continues to surge, or if the rug is pulled out from this dynamic sector and the United States falls further behind China. At issue is tax parity among energy generation technologies and whether tax reform will actually simplify the code for investors and businesses.

There is much to celebrate already. Businesses large and small are eagerly awaiting a dramatic reduction in the corporate tax rate and the allowance for 100 percent expensing. These provisions will ensure that U.S.-based firms are more competitive internationally and will fast-track domestic investment. Businesses in every sector of the economy will have more flexibility and agility in competitive global markets. And by immediately writing off the full cost of new equipment, businesses can make additional investments sooner, improve operations, and invest in employees and workplace training.

These benefits hold true for the clean energy sector, but are undermined by the Senate bill’s new tax on businesses working in multiple countries and the retention of the corporate alternative minimum tax. As currently drafted, the base erosion anti-abuse tax provisions in the Senate bill would add more complexity to the existing tax system and potentially subject many planned renewable energy projects to a new 100 percent tax. Further, it weakens the current tax equity financing framework and shuffles the principal mechanism for monetizing credits. Its retroactive application undercuts commitments made in good faith by investors and developers, and will dramatically reduce American clean energy investment and job creation in the wake. While these provisions were put in the bill to prevent companies from paying fewer U.S. taxes, as written the BEAT provisions will stunt job growth in a sector that is otherwise growing 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy.

And instead of having businesses do their taxes twice and pay the higher of the two, the corporate AMT should be repealed as proposed in the House bill. Without a fix, the AMT provisions in the Senate measure will nullify the value in other parts of tax reform that are critical to spurring innovation and economic growth.

Mature markets don’t need help from Uncle Sam, but Congress shouldn’t unravel deals based on a bipartisan agreement in 2015 that scheduled the phase-out of tax credits for the solar and wind industry. Unfortunately, the House bill would dissolve this agreement by cutting the value of the remaining tax credits going forward, and applying these changes retroactively. Maintaining the 2015 agreement in these areas will ensure near-term certainty for businesses, communities and investors that back these energy projects. In just a few years, these credits will sunset as planned.

The House took a significant step forward in leveling the tax credit playing field for solar, qualified fuel cell, wind, microturbine, combined heat and power, and thermal energy. Tax credits were also extended for residential energy efficiency property and modified for advanced nuclear power facilities. These additional clean energy tax credits—and their planned sunset schedules — create parity among energy generation technologies in the short- and long-run and should be included in the final tax bill.

Congress has a once-in-a-generation chance to use tax reform as a tool for long-term growth and better competition in the energy sector. As tax reform legislation moves forward, CRES Forum encourages the conferees to assure that the workers and businesses which comprise America’s clean energy sector can continue to lift to the U.S. economy as well as an American-made energy future.

About the Author

Charles Hernick is director of policy and advocacy at Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) Forum, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to educating the public and influencing the national conversation about clean energy.

This post was originally published on Morning Consult on December 12. 

Energy and Sustainable Transportation Opportunities in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s vision is to become “a laboratory for the world’s economy deep decarbonization process, working with civil society, the private sector, academia, and the international community…” With this vision come enormous business opportunities for American clean energy technologies and low-carbon transportation solutions. Earlier this year Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) members and GHG Engineering, LLC, met with the Embassy of Costa Rica to discuss these potential opportunities.

Here are some facts that reflect Costa Rica’s accomplishments, challenges, and opportunities for decarbonization in both the power generation and the transportation sectors.

This Central American country, somewhat smaller than Switzerland and roughly twice the size of Vermont, has achieved notable sustainable development goals in the electric generation sector by historically generating most of its electricity from renewable sources. In 2015 and 2016 Costa Rica generated about 98% of its electricity (10,700 GW-h, 2015) from hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, and biomass energy resources.

In 2007, Costa Rica pledged to be carbon neutral by 2021. It is also a country that has a transportation sector that is close to 100% dependent on (imported) fossil fuels, creating a an almost impossible hurdle to meeting this goal of carbon neutrality by 2021. However, Costa Rica has recently recognized that realistically it will take decades not years to accomplish carbon neutrality.

In 2015 Costa Rica consumed close to 307 million gallons of gasoline, approximately 8% more than in 2014, driven by an increased number of automobile imports. The approximate carbon emissions from 2015 gasoline consumption equates to about 2.73 million metric tonnes CO2e. As of 2016, Costa Rica had about 915,000 automobiles. Of significance is that the diesel related CO2e emissions for the same period were about 1.3 times that of gasoline. Diesel is mostly used by light and heavy trucks, and public transportation buses.

The energy contained in the gasoline consumed by Costa Rica in 2015 equates to about 10,150 GW- h which is about the same amount of electricity generated by entire power sector. However, because of the increased efficiency of electrical vehicles, GHG Engineering has estimated that to electrify Costa Rica’s 2016 automobile fleet, about 3,000 GW-h/year of new generation would be needed. To supply this additional electricity, approximately 500 land based wind turbines (2 MW each) would be needed and such an installation is estimated to require 150 km2 of land or about 0.3 % of Costa Rica’s territory. The equivalent solar facility would occupy an estimated 50 km2. All these figures should be considered preliminary estimates.

Solar energy as a percentage of the electrical generation mix is less than 0.2%, which is considered very low for a country like Costa Rica. The National Institute of Electricity reported that the 2015 residential (not utility scale) solar electricity generation potential of Costa Rica was about 0.220 GW-h/year which is nil compared to the total electrical energy consumption. Therefore, it would appear that there is a significant solar electrical power generation potential in Costa Rica that is untapped.

One of the takeaways from the meeting at the Embassy of Costa Rica was the need to better understand Costa Rica’s transportation sector in terms of factors including energy consumption, infrastructure, transportation modes, and the regulatory environment. It was also discussed that an effective and sustainable transportation sector is vital to the country’s economic growth.

The author believes that to achieve carbon neutrality within the next decades Costa Rica will need to approach decarbonization of its transportation sector (and other sectors) by developing and implementing a plausible low carbon development plan (LCDP). This means that Costa Rica’s aspiration of carbon neutrality by 2021 will most likely not be achieved in the next four years. But it can be achieved within a few decades through careful planning and unwavering stakeholder support.

In very broad terms, a low carbon development plan (LCDP) is a multi-stakeholder and multisector undertaking that defines and evaluates different plausible economic development scenarios that can significantly reduce a country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while decoupling emissions and energy demand from long term economic growth and population well-being.

A complete LCDP typically includes the analysis of the transportation, household, power generation, industrial, and agricultural sectors. A LCDP links all these economic sectors and is often developed for planning horizons spanning 20, 30 and/or 50 years. To be successful, a transportation focused LCDP will require political will and tenacity, intensive stakeholder participation, and viable funding mechanisms, among others. This will be a difficult undertaking but certainly not insurmountable.

About the Author

John A. Mosheim, P.E.,CEM, GHG Engineering, LLC

GHG Engineering is an engineering consulting firm specializing in water conservation, greenhouse gas emissions management, and sustainability. The ideas and comments expressed in the blog are the author’s alone, and should not be construed as anything else. Additionally, the author bears the responsibility for any potential inaccuracies. John can be reached at jam[at]ghgengineering.com with any comments.

Business Council for Sustainable Energy Presses Congress on Energy Tax Provisions (December 11, 2017)

Business Council for Sustainable Energy presses Congress on energy tax provisions

Published on December 11, 2017 by Chris Galford, Daily Energy Insider

With Congress making tax reform a top priority of year’s end, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) recently called on legislators to include sweeping energy tax measures.

© Shutterstock

In a letter, the BCSE called for structuring of the tax could that would provide benefits to all qualifying technologies based on the energy, as well as environmental and public benefits they provide. Further, they said that without a transition period on proposed changes to existing tax laws, there could be a disruption of the market and job losses. Unpredictability, they noted, is bad for investment and bad for jobs.

Neither branch of Congress escaped their attention, either.

“Regarding specific comments on the pending tax reform legislation, we note that the Senate version of the bill does not have an energy title, but includes provisions that would impose severe and negative impacts on energy financing and deployment for certain energy sources,” the BCSE wrote. “The House version includes energy provisions that change the tax treatment of a range of energy technologies – some favorably and some in an extremely problematic manner.”

Additionally, the House legislation does not provide clarification of eligibility for energy storage or waste heat to power investment tax credits. Neither measure supports a restoration of production tax credit for biogas, biomass, hydropower and similar sources, either. That bill would also strike electric vehicle credits and eliminate the issuance of tax credit bonds after Dec. 31, 2017.

On the Senate side, they were concerned by a lack of incorporation and preservation efforts toward a slew of technologies. They also took umbrage at a new tax known as the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) that hit renewable tax credits on multinational companies with a 100 percent tax. Further, the BCSE stated that without repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax provisions, reductions in the corporate tax rate would hinder corporations’ ability to claim production tax credits.

Morning Energy: More Views on Tax Conference (December 8, 2017)

More Views on Tax Conference

December 8, 2017
By Anthony Adragna, Morning Energy, Politico

The Business Council for Sustainable Energy released a letter Thursday outlining its priorities and suggestions for the final compromise version of the tax bill. It finds flaws in both versions with some in the House’s “extremely problematic” for how the treat a variety of energy technologies. “We urge Congress to address these issues during the conference on the tax reform legislation or in a year-end extenders bill,” it suggests.

BCSE Calls on Congress to Act on Urgent Energy Tax Measures to Preserve and Expand Investment and Jobs (December 7, 2017)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 7, 2017                

Contact:  Laura Tierney
Email:    [email protected]
Office:   202.785.0507

BCSE Calls on Congress to Act on Urgent Energy Tax Measures to Preserve and Expand Investment and Jobs

Washington, DC – The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) released a letter today urging action this year on critical energy tax provisions. including recommendations for the tax reform legislation conference committee.

“The Council appreciates the historic effort to reform the US tax system with the aim of boosting employment and economic prosperity for consumers and businesses.  Energy tax measures should be structured such that benefits are provided to all qualifying technologies in accordance with the energy, environmental and other public benefits they generate.  The tax code should not pick winners and losers, but should allow all fuel sources to compete on an even playing field.

“Further, consistent and predictable tax policy is fundamental to investment and job creation. Therefore, should changes be made to existing tax laws, adequate transition is needed to avoid market disruptions and job losses.

“Regarding specific comments on the pending tax reform legislation, we note that the Senate version of the bill does not have an energy title, but includes provisions that would impose severe and negative impacts on energy financing and deployment for certain energy sources.  The House version includes energy provisions that change the tax treatment of a range of energy technologies – some favorably and some in an extremely problematic manner.  We call on Congress to urgently address these issues.”

To see the full letter with specific comments on measures in the House and Senate versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, go here.

BCSE Quarterly Connection: December 2017

BCSE Quarterly Connection: December 2017

In this issue:

President’s View: Critical End of Year Tax and Budget Decisions Will Impact Clean Energy Industries

As we move into December, all eyes are on Congress and the Trump Administration as they race to complete legislation in areas that directly impact clean energy industries. First, and foremost, is tax reform. The all-out push to enact the most significant tax overhaul in 30 years is underway and, if passed, will include energy and non-energy related provisions that will set the course on interest rates, expensing, deductions, and credits, among other significant business issues.  BCSE members have been urging Congress and the administration to retain the solar and wind tax laws as adopted in the PATH Act of 2015 and to reinstate the lapsed tax credits for non-wind Production Tax Credit technologies (biogas, biomass, waste to energy, hydropower, and marine and hydrokinetic) and non-solar Investment Tax Credit-eligible technologies (fuel cells, combined heat and power, small wind, and geothermal) as well as for energy efficiency and sustainable transportation.  If Congress does not address these issues in the tax reform legislation, BCSE is urging Congress to move on an extenders bill before year’s end.  The budget allocations for all federal agencies for Fiscal Year 2018 also need to be agreed upon, and face challenges without the adoption of a new budget agreement that removes pre-established spending caps.  BCSE called upon Congress to act immediately to resolve the pending issues and to adopt budgets for the Department of Energy, the Department of State and the Environmental Protection Agency that will provide appropriate funding for programs that work to ensure a safe, secure, reliable, clean and diverse energy system.

A Transformational Year for the CEBN

This year has been transformational for the Clean Energy Business Network (CEBN).  The network moved from The Pew Charitable Trusts to its new home in the BCSE in May.  Over the past half-year, the CEBN has rebranded its identity inside the beltway and across the nation, rolled out exciting new content and services for members, and completed a member-driven strategic planning effort to guide the future of the organization.  Read more about 2017 accomplishments and see a sneak peak of what’s in store for 2018 here.

BCSE Members Voice Concern over Energy Pricing Proposals Under Consideration by FERC

In response to direction from the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been asked to consider adopting new and dramatic energy pricing structures for a select group of electricity generators – under an expedited timeline – on grid reliability and resiliency grounds. The Council has long supported updating market rules to better assess and value ancillary and other services to enhance the performance and security of the electric grid. However, the proposal is based on the unsubstantiated view that the US is experiencing a current reliability threat and, based on this premise, the proposal recommends actions without full consideration of the issues involved or the current mechanisms in place at state and regional levels to manage these issues.  BCSE submitted its views to FERC in October and awaits a possible mid-December response from FERC on this proposed rulemaking.

Clean Energy Industry Reception at NARUC is a Home Run at Camden Yards

The Designated Hitter’s Lounge at Camden Yards was the venue for the clean energy industry reception BCSE and seven other clean energy organizations hosted during the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners meeting on November 12.  There was a great view of the ball park as a live three-piece band played throughout the reception.  Utility commissioners, commission staff and other NARUC meeting attendees look forward to the clean energy industry reception as a consistent event at the NARUC meetings.  In addition to the reception, BCSE hosted a breakfast event during the NARUC meeting at which Florida Utility Commissioner Ronald Brise spoke about his state’s efforts to prepare for and respond to the 2017 hurricanes.

Sue Gander with the National Governors Association also spoke at the BCSE breakfast and Council members had an opportunity to talk about the work they are doing on resiliency. This is the type of event that was envisioned when the BCSE State and Regional Policy Committee committed to working collaboratively with the Federal Policy Committee to identify opportunities to engage with policy makers to identify and advocate for federal efforts and funding to rebuild areas affected by the 2017 disasters with clean, resilient, and energy efficient infrastructure.

For more information on BCSE’s 2017 NARUC activities, see here.

Business Climate Action Shines at COP 23 in Germany

Despite the uncertainty about the U.S. government’s position at the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in November in Bonn, Germany, the BCSE’s delegation of clean energy companies served as bright ambassadors of U.S. climate action and the power that the transformation of the energy sector can bring.  Hosted by the island nation of Fiji, the conference was guided by the spirit of “Bula Vinaka” or warm welcome. COP 23 marked the beginning of the Talanoa Dialogue, which will take stock of global progress towards the long-term vision of the Paris Agreement.

The Council’s delegation and activities at COP 23 demonstrated the important contributions of the private sector in the surging wave of climate action by sub-national actors. A business showcase at the U.S. Climate Action Center included a BCSE-led discussion on energy technology and systems solutions that are delivering emissions reductions and helping create low-carbon pathways.

Additional highlights from the COP 23 include:

  • Celebration of the Council’s 25th Anniversary with the presentation of BCSE Distinguished Leadership Awards to Christiana Figueres, Jukka Uosukainen and Jonathan Pershing.
  • Sharing of industry views on climate resilience and mitigation at a press event featuring Ingersoll Rand, Johnson Controls, Jupiter Oxygen, Mars, Inc., Jupiter Oxygen Corporation and US Green Building Council. Watch the video.
  • Release of Powering Ambition: Clean Energy Solutions for COP 23, a paper that shows how falling technology costs can enable countries to do more.

Additional details on the BCSE’s delegation and full range of events at COP 23 can be found here: www.bcse.org/cop23.

BCSE Commits to Work with Virginia as It Considers Joining RGGI

On November 16, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board unanimously approved a regulation that will enable the Commonwealth to join the Regional Greenhouse Grass Initiative (RGGI). It will now go through a period of executive review by other agencies before being published in the Virginia register. This marks an important milestone in a process that began in May 2016, when Governor McAuliffe signed Executive Order 57, asking an advisory committee to recommend executive actions he could take to reduce carbon emissions in Virginia.

BCSE reiterated its support for the carbon trading regulation at a meeting with Governor McAuliffe and his staff in Bonn, Germany, during COP 23. The Governor expressed confidence that the regulation would continue to move forward when Governor-Elect Ralph Northam assumes office in January, and hopefulness that the Virginia General Assembly, in which democrats picked up 15 seats, will be supportive of this regulation and other clean energy efforts.

The result of the Executive Order 57 process was Executive Directive 11, which instructed the VA Department of Environmental Quality to formulate a regulation that would enable the state to join a regional emissions trading scheme. BCSE’s comments in support of this process are available here.

When the proposed emissions trading regulation is published in January, BCSE will comment, and will be soliciting the input of interested members in the coming weeks.

Help Tell America’s Clean Energy Story: Support the 2018 Factbook

BCSE, in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, is preparing for a mid-February release of the 2018 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. In its sixth year, the Factbook is a one of a kind resource that shows year on year as well as long term trends in economics and market developments for energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors in the US.  The 2018 issue will be especially important.  There is a pressing need to have policy considerations focused on the facts, and there is a threat that some of the dynamics and trends in the sector could be misconstrued or manipulated. The 2018 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook will provide an invaluable tool to communicate the progress made on clean energy and the broader dynamics in US energy markets. Please support this project and become a sponsor today.

BCSE Urges FERC to Decline DOE Grid Resiliency Pricing Proposal (October 23, 2017)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 23, 2017

Contact: Laura Tierney
Email:  [email protected]
Office: 202.785.0507

BCSE Urges FERC to Decline DOE Grid Resiliency Pricing Proposal

Washington, DC – In comments submitted today to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) urged the Commission to decline the proposal by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on electricity grid reliability and resiliency pricing.  Council President Lisa Jacobson made the following statement regarding the submission.

“Resiliency and reliability issues are paramount to the electric sector.  However, the DOE proposal fails to identify an immediate problem or substantial evidence for greater “resiliency” provided by resources with a 90-day on-site fuel supply.

“The portfolio of currently available clean energy technologies and services in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors – working with energy storage, demand response and micro-grids, among other technologies and services – is meeting the needs of the grid affordably and reliably today and can meet the needs of an evolving electric grid into the future.  The DOE proposal could jeopardize this approach.

“Additionally, the DOE proposal does not provide adequate time or detail for interested parties to comment, especially given the magnitude of the policy action recommended.  To the extent the Commission has concerns regarding the impact of plant retirements on grid reliability and resiliency, it can gather more information regarding resiliency and what, if any, reforms might be needed to address it within the organized markets.  FERC should decline this proposal and pursue other processes to consider resiliency and reliability issues.”

Please see a copy of the BCSE submission here.

Download the press release.

BCSE Statement on the Congressional Hearing about Defining Reliability in a Transforming Electricity Industry (October 3, 2017)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 3, 2017

Contact:  Laura Tierney
Email:    [email protected]
Office:   202.785.0507

BCSE Statement on the Congressional Hearing about Defining Reliability in a Transforming Electricity Industry

Washington, DC – Lisa Jacobson, President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, offered the following statement regarding today’s House Energy and Commerce hearing entitled, Part II:  Defining Reliability in a Transforming Electricity Industry.  Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association; Christopher Mansour, Vice President Federal Affairs, Solar Energy Industries Association; Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of  the Energy Storage Association; and Steve Wright, General Manager, Chelan County PUD, on behalf of the National Hydropower Association were invited to testify at today’s hearing.

“The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) is pleased to see that several of the Council’s members were invited to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee today as the committee looks further into the question of reliability in a transforming electricity industry.

“These industries are helping to bring about significant changes to the U.S. electricity sector.  As these changes are occurring, energy productivity is increasing and wholesale and retail power prices have been declining in most parts of the country.  Further, consumers are spending the lowest amount of their household budget on energy costs since the early 1960s (see 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook).

“The portfolio of currently available clean energy technologies and services in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors – working with energy storage, demand response and micro-grids, among other technologies and services – is meeting the current needs of the grid affordably and reliably today and can meet the needs of an evolving electric grid into the future. The transformation to a more diverse electric system that is occurring is not jeopardizing grid reliability and resiliency.

“Recognizing that different regions or markets may require different solutions, the BCSE believes that market rules that allow for competition of resources and that value the evolving needs of the grid are fundamental to maintaining grid performance, ensuring resiliency and can avoid costly market distortions.

“The BCSE looks forward to working with members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Department of Energy, and other government bodies, on the policy frameworks that are necessary to ensure grid reliability.”

Download the press release.

BCSE Quarterly Connection: Fall

BCSE 2017 Fall Newsletter
Quarterly Connection, Vol. 25

2017 Factbook on the Road

BCSE made two high-profile presentations on the Sustainable Energy in American Factbook in recent weeks – underscoring the strong value of this resource to industry and policymakers.

  • On September 16, BCSE President Lisa Jacobson shared the Factbook data at the MN Energy Expo sponsored by MN ASHRAE and the MN Association of Energy Engineers members.
  • As part of National Clean Energy Week, the Factbook was presented at a lunch address to participants at the Washington, DC Symposium.

President's View: Resiliency is the Word of the Day Post 2017 Storms

2O3B0014 (445x640).jpgAs the estimates come in the hundreds of billions of dollars in recovery and rebuilding costs from the devastating hurricanes of 2017, the resiliency of the US energy system, and especially our power system and buildings, becomes a high priority. I was particularly struck by a statement of the City Manager Key West who commented that he rode out hurricane Irma safely in the Key West City Hall, which was built to one of the strongest hurricane-resistant building codes in the country. It has also been noted that Texas’ wind farms were up and running soon after Harvey and combined heat and power and microgrids were also recognized for their value after the storms. The portfolio of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy offers enhanced reliability to essential infrastructure with readily-available and affordable technologies. At all levels of government, communities must take heed of the experiences in these storm-impacted areas and plan for a more resilient future.

To start, the federal government should continue to fund its preparedness planning support to states and localities as well as its investment in research, development and deployment of the broad range of clean energy technologies. Congress and the Administration should also push the conversation on improving and enhancing the resiliency of the country’s infrastructure higher on the agenda. BCSE members are making the case that the energy sector is critical infrastructure – and that it serves other critical infrastructure systems – in its issues paper released in January. The 2017 storm season showed how interlinked these systems are and how much our communities and businesses rely on them. Looking forward, the good news is that we have technologies that can provide the resiliency we need by further integration and deployment of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy.

View on COP 23: US Clean Energy Sectors Committed to Climate Action

cop23 logo.pngBCSE members are showing their commitment to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and a significant group will join the BCSE delegation to the upcoming COP 23 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, November 6-17. The Council’s work in Bonn will showcase how the expertise and technologies of American clean energy companies are helping cities, states and countries to meet local and national emissions reduction targets, diversify energy portfolios and increase infrastructure resilience. These companies are working with other countries on the implementation of the first round of nationally determined contributions (NDCS). A series of public and private events will be held at COP 23 to connect BCSE members to key country policymakers and other business and civil society leaders that are driving momentum on climate action and raising ambition. To get involved please contact Laura Tierney ([email protected]).

Keep the North American Energy Economy Strong

As the United States, Canada and Mexico embarked upon the re-negotiation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in late summer, the Council highlighted in a letter to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) the current strength of the regional energy economy, and a call to protect the advancements made in this economy of both clean energy and energy productivity over the past twenty-five years. The negotiations will be taking place every three weeks, rotating between the countries, with an eye towards agreement on a NAFTA version 2.0 in December. BCSE will continue to monitor the negotiations, especially as they relate to energy issues.

Energy and Funding Bills Top Agenda for BCSE Hill Outreach

cap hill purple_resize.jpg

The Federal Policy Committee has held an aggressive set of meetings over the summer to touch base on the Council’s energy and funding priorities with members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee. The working remains intense on appropriations outreach, but with the shift in Congress to focus on tax reform this fall, BCSE will deepen its engagement with the tax writing committees in the House and Senate.

Senators appear to share BCSE’s concerns over the issue of possible impoundment, which would result in federal agencies spending appropriated dollars at the very low funding levels set out in the President’s Budget request rather than at levels intended by Congress. The Senate Appropriations Committee staff – on both sides of the aisle – are committed to providing oversight and have extended an open door invitation to BCSE members to reach out to them in the event there are concerns over the way the Department of Energy, or other agencies, are spending – or choosing not to spend – appropriated dollars.

In the coming weeks the Federal Policy Committee will focus on meetings with House and Senate tax writing committees to discuss possible tax reform legislation and with a number of House and Senate Leadership offices – such as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and others – during our October 5 membership meeting to discuss end-of-year business including appropriations, tax reform and energy.

Summer NARUC Outreach Attracts Utility Commissioners From Coast to Coast

Over the summer months, the Council continued outreach to utility commissioners to discuss market access, grid reliability, pipeline safety, transmission and other issues, with events at the Mid-Atlantic Public Utility Commissioners Conference (MACRUC) and the summer annual conference for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).

Seven commissioners, including Betty Anne Kane (DC), Dallas Winslow (Chair of the DE PUC), Joseph Fiordaliso (NJ), Diane Burman (NY), Gladys Brown (Chair of the PA PUC), Richard Mroz (Chair of the NJ BPU) and Anthony O’Donnell (MD) joined two breakfast meetings at MACRUC in Hershey, Pennsylvania, to share concerns about issues in their states and to learn from BCSE members. As a result of the events, Chair Winslow has suggested BCSE work with him on some additional energy efficiency education at a future MACRUC meeting.

BCSE’s efforts continued with the July NARUC events in San Diego. This included a luncheon with five commissioners - from Hawaii, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island and the Chief of Staff from the California PUC. Commissioners shared updates on clean energy and sustainability initiatives in their states while BCSE members spoke about the work they are doing. BCSE also organized a very well attended clean energy industry reception with ten partnering organizations as co-sponsors of the event.

In addition to our NARUC work, the Council has been involved over the summer in a number of state specific actions, including submitting comments to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on its proposed emissions trading regulations, and issuing a press statement and letter to key policymakers in support of extension of California’s cap and trade program.

BCSE Engages On Renewable Fuel Standard

This August, the Council participated in EPA’s regulatory process on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) with written comments and testimony at the August 1 hearing on the Draft 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard. Along with BCSE members such as the American Biogas Council, Ameresco, Waste Management and others, BCSE’s comments focused on the importance of biogas and renewable natural gas as contributors to America’s diverse energy portfolio. BCSE also highlighted benefit of the RFS for promoting American security and energy independence by placing value on the development of American fuels. The Council encouraged EPA to employ the most accurate methodologies for calculating the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO). This includes using current market data that capture the full range of benefits provided by biogas and RNG. The Council cautioned against policies that would rely only on historical data that might not accurately represent the bright future ahead for renewable fuels. BCSE was pleased to join its members and partners in this effort and welcomes suggestions on ways to engage further.

News from the Clean Energy Business Network

It has been four months since the Clean Energy Business Network (CEBN) moved from The Pew Charitable Trusts to become an independent initiative of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE).  The CEBN is now fully operational and has launched a member-driven strategic planning effort to shape the priorities for the organization over the next two years.

Consider joining the CEBN today, and promoting this resource to your staff, business partners, suppliers, and other colleagues! The CEBN makes it easy for business leaders around the nation to stay informed and engaged in energy policy issues, works to increase public and policymaker awareness of clean energy solutions, and offers resources to help members address common business challenges. Learn more about this new addition to the BCSE family.