With the Senate version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) passing on December 2, we’re now in the midst of House-Senate Conference for resolution of the differences between the two bills. The differences are quite significant, which suggests an intensive and difficult negotiation over the next number of days as they seek to agree on a final bill that must be approved by both chambers before heading to the President’s desk.
As we’ve stated before, both the Senate and House versions of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act contain provisions that would undermine the investment tools that have been critical to the growth of America’s burgeoning renewable energy economy.
Today we’re publishing a brief paper outlining the provisions of concern to renewable energy in the House and Senate Bills, and suggesting repairs that can keep the sector growing. The key provisions include a direct assault on renewable tax credits in the House bill, and the Alternative Minimum Tax and Base Erosion Anti-abuse Tax (BEAT) provisions in the Senate Bill. To download this overview, click here.
Four project developers did a rapid survey across the renewable energy finance landscape at the 14th annual Wall Street Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York in late June. The conference is organized by the American Council on Renewable Energy and Euromoney.
The four are Jim Murphy, president and chief operating officer of Invenergy, Gaetan Frotte, senior vice president and treasurer of NRG Energy, Jim Trousdale, chief financial officer of Apex Clean Energy, and Michael Silvestrini, CEO of Greenskies Renewable Energy. (Silvestrini left Greenskies in July to become managing partner of Energia, an international project developer specializing in the commercial and industrial solar markets in Latin America and Asia.) The moderator is Keith Martin with Norton Rose Fulbright in Washington.
EDITOR’S NOTE: On May 17, ACORE is hosting a State of Industry Webinar entitled “Is the U.S. Primed for an Offshore Wind Boom?” More information and registration details are available here: http://bit.ly/2oIB9Em
Proponents of renewable energy in the U.S. have watched as a growing number of once promising innovations—from solar and onshore wind farms to geothermal and distributed generation—have increasingly achieved commercial scale around the country. Yet the development of large-scale offshore wind projects has lagged that of its renewable counterparts in the U.S., as well as the development of offshore wind in Europe. The latter comparison was made all the more evident by last month’s successful bids by Danish company Dong Energy and German utility EnBW to construct separate offshore wind farms in Germany without the aid of federal subsidies, a significant benchmark in the ascension of the world’s offshore wind industry.
On December 6, 2016, the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) convened its National Defense and Security Initiative for an executive meeting with leading military officials. ACORE’s National Defense and Security Initiative is a unique partnership between ACORE and the Department of Defense (DoD), that brings together renewable energy industry leaders, financiers, and stakeholders to increase the use of renewable energy by the military. During this meeting, the Assistant Secretaries for Energy from the Army, Navy, and Air Force and key staff provided an overview of their strategic use of renewable energy and the expected path forward under a new administration.
On August 3rd, 2015, President Barak Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final version of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP sets the first national standards to address carbon pollution from existing power plants and demonstrates to the global community that the United States is willing to take action to combat climate change. The CPP uses Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to set state-specific carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reduction targets with an overall nationwide reduction of 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. While setting these targets, the CPP is designed to allow states maximum flexibility in how they achieve their individual objectives.
On Thursday, September 22nd, ACORE presented the US-Canada Renewable Energy Forum, with the support of the Canadian Consulate in New York, Brookfield Asset Management and Phillips Lytle, LLP. Held during Climate Week NYC, the forum discussed recent policy developments and worked to identify opportunities for collaboration and cross-border projects to increase the development of renewable energy in the United States and Canada. The forum was attended by over 70 people representing a diverse mix of financiers, developers, policy experts, government representatives and NGOs.
One of the biggest developments in the renewable energy marketplace in the last 12–24 months has been the rapid growth in corporate renewables purchases. A vanguard of commercial and industrial companies is now playing an increasingly important role in the evolution of renewables—both in terms of their growing share of the market and their increasingly sophisticated needs and procurement approaches. As a result of this influence, ACORE worked with PwC to survey companies headquartered in the U.S. to better understand what is driving corporate renewables purchases, and what is holding companies back from doing even more.
With most residential rooftop area in the U.S. unsuitable for traditional PV panels, the community solar model provides many customers a cost effective alternative for “going solar.” Community solar brings policy benefits like net metering, similar to rooftop installations, and models have developed, and continue to evolve, that allow customers to access community solar through their incumbent utility, as owners in a cooperative group, or as a nonprofit.
On March 17, the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) hosted its annual Renewable Energy Policy Forum, where speakers and attendees came to a broad consensus that consistent policy is the missing link in the national renewable energy playing field. Industry leaders noted that many had looked to the Clean Power Plan (CPP) as a source for political guidance. However, now that the climate rule has been put on hold, uncertainty remains. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) affirmed that the recent tax extenders for wind and solar will allow for the renewable industry to strategically prepare for upcoming years. But in order to achieve a more stable tableau for all renewables, Congress must agree on comprehensive tax reform – the Senator called the current tax code “a rotting dead carcass” and a “monument to yesteryear.” Business leaders also agreed that even negative consistent policy is preferable to inconsistency – and long-term consistent policy is not yet part of the American play book.
This year’s annual National Renewable Energy Policy Forum, hosted by ACORE, took place on the heels of an important policy update for key technologies. In December 2015, Congress approved a combined tax and budget package giving wind and solar what amounts to between five and seven years of policy “certainty” for investors and developers. But tax policy is only one part of the equation. We got another important boost that same month from the successful international climate meetings in Paris where 129 nations came together and, in essence, agreed to move to a low-carbon economy. But just a few weeks later, the Supreme Court issued a surprising stay of EPA’s carbon-cutting regulatory initiative, the Clean Power Plan, which threw sand in the gears of an implementation effort that was just gaining momentum. The stay is likely to delay implementation efforts by more than a year, even as states respond in dramatically different ways. In the meantime, it will be up to the renewable sector and its allies to maintain the public and private sector momentum behind the shift to renewable generation.
Below is our quick overview of the key discussions and leading news stories emerging from this year’s Policy Forum. Three major stories reported on from this year’s Policy Forum: