Archive for the ‘Public Policy’ Category
Four new nuclear reactors are under construction in the U.S., the first plants to be built in 30 years. Yet U.S. Secretary of EnergyErnest Moniz says when it comes to nuclear power in the U.S., “the long term trajectory remains quite uncertain.”
Moniz speaks to Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson on a wide range of energy issues and says he expects wind, solar and other renewables to make up 30 to 40 percent of the country’s energy mix by 2030.
On the importance of nuclear power to the U.S. energy future
“Nuclear power, clearly, is one of the important so-called zero-carbon options. It does not emit carbon dioxide, obviously, as does fossil fuel combustion. So our view remains that A, we need to go to a low-carbon energy system over these next 10, 20 years. The solutions for a low-carbon system will look different in different places. Some countries, including industrial countries, will not have nuclear. Others will continue to grow it because it is one of the low carbon options, and different societies have different public attitudes but they also have frankly just very, very different core energy resources. So it will be multiple solutions in multiple places and nuclear power, I expect, will be part of that mix.” Read More…
The Legislature is moving in to the final phase of session with opposite House committee cut off Friday. Non-budget bills must have passed out of the opposite chamber policy committee or they are dead for this session. In other words House bills must pass out of Senate policy committee and vice verse.
Both the House and Senate presented versions of the General Fund and Transportation budgets. They will pass these versions out of their respective chambers and then final negotiations between the two chambers will proceed, hopefully concluding with a final budget deal by March 13. The Legislature will spend most of next week on the Floor passing opposite chamber bills and negotiating final concurrence language on any disputed legislation.
Momentum around solar issues associated with the incentive program and system leasing (HB 1301/ HB 2176) appear to have stalled and it does not look like any further Legislative activity will occur on this issue.
The High Tech RD tax incentives remain alive however the Senate proposed narrowing the program to just companies with less than $50 million in revenue. This has caused enormous controversy and could cause the entire program to die this session.
Prepared by Boswell Consulting
February 27, 2014 – The U.S. Department of State issued the following news release:
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will host a roundtable discussion highlighting the official launch of the Asia-Pacific Clean Energy Program on February 27 at 2 p.m.
The Asia-Pacific Clean Energy Program is being launched under the U.S. – Asia Pacific Comprehensive Energy Partnership (USACEP), which focuses on facilitating renewable and cleaner energy, markets and interconnectivity, the emerging role of natural gas, and sustainable development in the region. Read More…
The Legislature has reached the halfway point of session with chamber cut off on Tuesday. All legislation that is not budget related must have passed out of its original Chamber or it is considered dead and will not have any further activity this session.
HB 1301/HB 2176 Related to solar incentives and leased solar infrastructure did not pass out of the House on Tuesday however at this point they are still considered live and work is continuing.
The Hi Tech tax incentive bills have not moved yet, however they are considered necessary to implement the budget and exempt from cut-offs. The current rumors are that they will move out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee at the same time that a budget proposal moves forward.
Prepared by Boswell Consulting
A report from the Green Bank Academy in Washington, DC, by WCTA President Tom Ranken. The Green Bank Academy was hosted by the Coalition for Green Capital.
Washington, DC, February 7, 2014 -During the past two days, I have been in a conference investigating the role of green banks. Professionals from Connecticut, New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maryland, California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Illinois, and Washington gathered together to consider the role of green banks in their states and nationwide. The event was hosted by the DC based Coalition for Green Capital.
The term “green” in “green banks” refers not to the environment, but rather to the green of currency. That is, of course, only partially true.
While it is true that climate change is the motivator of many in this movement, it was stipulated almost immediately that the goal must be broader to succeed. Dan Esty, a key leader of Connecticut’s first in the nation green bank, told the group that “the goal must be cheaper cleaner, more reliable energy.” Blue states focus on cleaner energy, red states focus on cheaper. Most often, it was implied, these objectives are not in conflict. Success in public policy initiatives will be achieved when both of these goals can be attained.
In fact, it was consistently acknowledged, the need is to move from an economic model where cleantech requires subsidization to a new model in which financing is based on economic merit.
Is there a need to create a green bank in Washington State? The work in Connecticut, in particular, is impressive. They have spent over a year building their systems and are now financing new activity.
In our state–in what seems to be a typical model for us–we have a large number of entities and programs that are parts of what would be considered to be a green bank in other states. These include efforts implemented by the Governor, Legislature, and the Department of Commerce in the past year. The green bank challenge for us is to figure out where gaps in funding exist–and then fix them.
If cleantech is defined exclusively as solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources, the market today is limited, but growing. If it is defined more broadly, which makes more sense, it includes energy efficiency, storage systems, grid enhancements, and a multitude of energy sources. For that, the market is huge.
The Legislature spent the majority of the week in floor action passing various bills over to the other chamber. The process is nearing the mid point of session with House of Origin cut of on Tuesday. Any policy Legislation that has not passed out of its original Chamber will be considered dead for this session.
House Bill 1301 and House Bill 2176 dealing with the solar incentive program and leasing options for solar systems moved out of the House Rules Committee and efforts will be made to pass them out of the House by Tuesday.
House Bill 2183, maintaining a robust, clean, and job rich energy policy in the state of Washington that builds upon the goals created by the energy independence act. Passed out of the House and will have a hearing in the Senate Energy and Environment Committee next week.
Senate Bill 6430, Hi Tech R&D credit passed out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee this week and will be alive for the rest of session in spite of cutoffs.
Prepared by Boswell Consulting
The Obama administration will take the next step today in its multi-year effort to cut emissions and reduce oil use by getting better fuel economy from trucks.
In action that does not require congressional approval, Obama aims to build on the first-ever fuel standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that now cover model years 2014-18.
That initiative, finalized in 2011, aims to save some 530 million barrels of oil and cut emissions by roughly 270 million metric tons.
In his State of the Union address, Obama promised that 2014 would be a “Year of Action” and he would take steps through executive action in various policy areas that do not need congressional backing.
Carrying out the second phase of the fuel rules for trucks, Obama will direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Transportation Department to propose a new standards for post-2018 model years. Obama wants those targets developed by March 2015.
Although heavy-duty vehicles account for just 4% of registered vehicles on the road in the USA, they account for approximately 25% of road-fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions coming from the transportation sector. Heavy-duty vehicles, including trucks, buses and vans, rank behind cars in the production of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, according to the Transportation Department.
Thanks to all who were able to attend our first meeting and discuss carbon pricing policy. I was very pleased with the active participation and thought we did a good job of surfacing the pros and cons, as well as identifying other approaches to reducing carbon—and boosting the cleantech sector.
The arguments in favor of WCTA engaging on the carbon pricing issue included:
- We are going to be asked to take a position. Gov. Inslee has expressed a strong interest in adopting some form of carbon pricing (he prefers cap and trade). In the wake of the Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup (CLEW) process, it appears likely that some policy proposal will emerge in 2014, go to the Legislature in 2015, and, if not passed, go to the ballot in 2016. The Governor will look to the cleantech industry for support on such a policy, so it behooves the WCTA to get informed on the options and develop a point of view on a preferred policy.
- Potential for broad member benefits. Many cleantech policy proposals benefit portions of our membership (as opposed to the entire sector) and we have not taken a position to date. Individual companies have advocated for specific policies, but we have not had a collective voice (with the recent exception of advocating extension of the R&D tax credit/deferral). Carbon pricing policy has the potential to benefit a broad cross-section of WCTA companies. A price on carbon puts alternative energy sources on an even footing with fossil fuels, which could benefit all clean energy and energy efficiency companies. The revenue raised by a carbon price could be recycled, which could further benefit a broad cross-section of our membership.
- The topic is interesting. Much has been learned about different approaches in the last five years since the debate in Congress. It is useful for cleantech companies to understand recent policy lessons on approaches to reducing carbon emissions, even if the Alliance decides not to take a position.
The arguments against the WCTA engaging the carbon pricing issues included: Read More…
The legislature completed fourth week with Committee cutoff on Friday. Any policy bill must have passed out of its original committee or it is considered dead for this session and will not have any more work done. This marks the midpoint of session; next week will be spent in floor action with both chambers debating the various bills before them.
The House Technology and Economic Development Committee Passed out HB 2176, which allows loans and leases for alternative energy systems on customer property. Work continues on comprehensive changes to the solar energy incentive program as well as solar leasing programs. If enough agreement and momentum are reached all of the solar concepts are expected to be rolled in to House Bill 1301 and will move forward as a single piece of Legislation. The Issues surrounding both the solar incentive program and the leasing options remain very complicated and it is still unclear if anything will move forward this session.
The High Tech Tax credit bills in the Senate passed out of the Senate Economic Development Committee and are currently scheduled for hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday. The WCTA Board has taken a position in favor of this bill.
Prepared by: Boswell Consulting
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Clean energy jobs | Declares an intent to: (1) Attract a vibrant clean technology sector to the state; and (2) Improve the use of tax incentives, created in the act, by state residents and businesses, streamline program administration, and incubate the development of clean energy technology by modifying the existing renewable energy investment cost recovery incentive program.
Leased energy systems | Allows an electric utility or third-party vendor to offer a low-cost loan or lease program that provides customers across all rate classes access to renewable energy systems on their property. Requires the utilities and transportation commission to publish a list of financing models being offered by investor-owned utilities or third-party vendors registered as competitive electrical companies.
State energy policy | Requires the joint committee on energy supply and energy conservation to make recommendations to the energy committees of the legislature on ways to improve the effectiveness and implementation of the existing law and policies that would further the renewable energy and energy efficiency goals for utilities after 2020.
Requires the Washington State University energy program to conduct a resource assessment on the amount of new energy resources that could be made available with a high-efficiency cogeneration policy or a thermal heating efficiency policy to assist the joint committee deliberations in developing new energy performance standards after 2020. Read More…