The growing industry looks to the future on policies to unlock market expansion, aid in grid integration and continue to lower carbon emissions, via collaboration with Congress and the federal government
Washington, D.C. – The renewable energy industry came together last week to discuss energy, tax and climate policies at the annual National Renewable Energy Policy Forum, hosted by the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE). In the wake of a historic tax policy update in 2015, speakers and participants at the Forum predicted a bright future of economic growth, job creation and dramatically increasing renewable power generation.
“It was a hugely productive meeting that included comments from many of our most important champions. Throughout the history of this country, energy policy has always played a critical role in keeping America competitive and driving economic growth – and today is no different,” said Gregory Wetstone, President and CEO of ACORE. “The transition to a low carbon economy will be accompanied by new jobs and tremendous economic opportunity.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) opened the Policy Forum with a keynote speech that acknowledged the recent policy advancements supporting renewables, and also gave the gathered crowd an inspired vision of what’s to come. “Setting the right path for increasing low carbon, renewable energy and maximizing efficiency is a worthy policy goal,” said Sen. Wyden. “The work done last December extending policy support for renewable technologies was critical in supporting this growing sector, but we can do even more by overhauling our tax code, leveling the playing field, and making permanent the business certainty needed for companies committed to investing in a new energy industry.”
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the original architect of the Production Tax Credit for renewables, also gave a keynote address at this year’s Forum. The Senator said, “In Iowa, a state that just became the first in the nation to generate over 30 percent of its power from wind energy, we’ve seen the economic success story behind renewables up close and personal. There are more than 6,000 good wind jobs in Iowa, and the clean energy opportunity is available to every state in the country.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), gave an afternoon keynote and encouraged the assembled industry to push on with their progress. “Around Congress, the bullying menace of the fossil fuel industry is a constant. If the good actors cede the field to them, the result is predictable: members of Congress frozen in place, often against their better judgment. It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Groups like ACORE, with its broad membership representing billions in revenue and employees in every corner of the country and its deep expertise in energy and finance, can set the pace for corporate engagement on national climate policy.”
Dan Reicher, chairman of ACORE’s board of directors and Executive Director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy & Finance at Stanford University, summed up the Forum by saying, “Our industry is in a remarkable position, poised to reinvent the way we generate and purchase energy. By engaging our nation’s political leaders at the National Policy Forum, ACORE and its members are providing a valuable service to help align industry and government, which can culminate in critical progress for our nation as a whole.”
With December’s tax and budget deal done, wind and solar have unlocked an estimated $70 billion in investment for renewable energy. This year’s National Policy Forum highlighted the impact that policy certainty would have on the market, and also explored a number of new policy priorities that the industry is now able to turn its attention toward more fully. Net metering policies, state renewable portfolio standards, Clean Power Plan implementation, achievement of the COP 21 goals, new financial vehicles like master limited partnerships, and policies related to grid investment and integration were all topics of major discussion this year. The rise of Fortune 500 corporations as key renewable energy players also took center stage.
Marsden Hanna, policy lead for energy at Google, spoke at the Forum this year and commented on corporate procurement specifically. “At Google, we are seeking to power 100% of our operations from renewable energy because we believe this makes good business sense,” he said. “In a number of regions of the country, the cost of renewable energy has dropped to match or beat market prices on the grid. This allows us to power our data centers and operations with cost-effective clean energy, through long-term fixed-price contracts that help us smooth our financial planning, while insulating ourselves from fuel price volatility.”
The ACORE National Renewable Energy Policy Forum is an annual event that brings together high-level speakers from government, business, and non-profits to discuss the critical energy policy issues surrounding renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable development, finance, and national security. The final product of the Forum, the policy roadmap for renewable energy industry, will be shared with the President, Congress, and numerous governors, legislators, and regulators in the states.
ACORE is a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing value to the renewable energy industry through market development, policy changes, and finance. With hundreds of member companies from across the spectrum of renewable energy technologies, consumers, and investors, ACORE is uniquely positioned to promote the policies and financial structures essential to growth in the renewable energy sector. The organization’s annual conferences in Washington, New York and San Francisco set the industry standard in providing important venues for key leaders to meet; discuss recent developments; and hear the latest from senior government officials and seasoned experts. Additional information is available at: www.acore.org
ACORE Media Contact:
Kevin Haley, ACORE