With the holiday season upon us, many kids — and some adults — are making wish lists.
In that spirit, Utility Dive queried a dozen industry and environmental/advocacy groups about their policy wish list.
Specifically, what are the top power sector policy developments they would like to see at the state and/or federal level?
We heard from seven groups, representing a cross section of views on a range of issues, including wind, solar, storage and nuclear.
But common goals came up: extending and expanding tax credits; increased state, federal and grid operator support for carbon-free technologies; favorable trade policies; and increased momentum toward 100% clean energy goals, among other priorities.
Here are their wish lists in their own words, lightly edited for brevity and clarity:
Jeff Dennis, General Counsel and Managing Director, Advanced Energy Economy
- FERC, regional grid operators embrace the holiday spirit (of competitive markets): FERC and the nation's RTOs/ISOs rededicate themselves to improving and expanding wholesale power market competition, and reduce barriers to participation so that advanced energy technologies like wind, solar, energy storage and distributed energy resources can compete on a level playing field based on price and performance: The PJM MOPR standoff ends with renewables remaining in the market; energy storage participation is fully implemented in the RTOs/ISOs; FERC finalizes its order opening wholesale markets to distributed energy resources; FERC refocuses on the core competitive market goals of PURPA; and new incentives and planning processes embrace technology to improve the efficiency of the existing grid and focus on building new transmission to unlock vast quantities of new low-cost renewables.
- No coal in stockings: More states go 100% clean: We see more announcements and implementation by states to decarbonize electricity, with states like Virginia and Minnesota codifying executive orders into programs that ensure we meet our needs with 100% clean energy.
- Sleigh bells ringing: California sets electric vehicles soaring: The state sets an ambitious goal of 1 million electric vehicle chargers by 2030 and delivers a plan to build critical EV infrastructure.
Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association
- Extend the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) — an achievable step this year to cut carbon emissions. The ITC is a proven policy that is already on the books and has broad bipartisan support. New data from SEIA and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables shows that a 10-year extension of the ITC would add 82 gigawatts (GW) of solar deployment, 113,000 new U.S. jobs and inject $87 billion in private investment into the economy. Failing to do this is a missed opportunity for policymakers who care about clean air and climate.
- Ease the sting of tariffs to allow for increased solar adoption. Solar tariffs are a regressive tax on products that could advance America's clean energy economy. A recent unprecedented decision to revoke a tariff waiver for bifacial solar panels is creating uncertainty and costing American jobs. Broader tariffs on solar products, such as cells and panels, will cost the U.S. economy 60,000 jobs and $19 billion in private investment.
- Advance policies that fully open state markets for solar competition. This includes modernizing utility procurement to accurately characterize the costs and capabilities of solar and solar + storage. If done right, solar can win on price and supply needed grid services. States should also enable corporate customers large and small (who already recognize the cost advantages) to get the solar that they want.
Tom Kiernan, President and CEO, American Wind Energy Association
- Carbon priorities: Advance congressional support for a meaningful national carbon policy. The New York Independent System Operator submits a carbon adder proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (carbon pricing in its market), and FERC approves it.
- Market priorities: FERC and organized markets preserve the ability of states to support state clean energy goals and adopt reforms that integrate and properly reward hybrid resources in energy markets (wind/solar plus storage).
- Transmission priorities: Congress directs FERC to require regions to better plan transmission, linking them. FERC and organized markets adopt reforms to ensure new transmission is built and better incentivize the expansion of capacity on existing transmission lines.
Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO, Energy Storage Association
- Inclusion of stand-alone energy storage in the federal energy investment tax credit.
- Full compensation of energy storage in wholesale markets, including distributed storage and hybrid storage-plus resources.
- Adoption of state storage deployment targets that can drive peak reduction.
Maria Korsnick, president and CEO, Nuclear Energy Institute
- States should accelerate the move toward clean energy standards. More states must adopt clean energy standards that combine nuclear and other carbon-free sources to rapidly, reliably and affordably cut emissions.
- Today, more than half the states in the U.S. have adopted renewable portfolio standards that don't value all carbon-free technologies. However, as states set more aggressive decarbonization goals, they are increasingly moving toward technology-neutral clean energy standards.
- Market reforms that value all carbon-free generation sources. An uneven playing field exists, creating environments where markets do not adequately value what nuclear plants do well — produce reliable, carbon-free power around the clock.
- In merchant markets, price is the only determining factor. When markets only focus on price, they drive out carbon-free generation. Market distortions contributed to the early closure of two nuclear reactors in 2019, further jeopardizing state efforts to reduce carbon.
- As the nation's largest source of carbon-free generation, we need to keep our operating nuclear plants, successfully complete the construction of the new reactors at Vogtle, and accelerate private-public partnerships to demonstrate and deliver new nuclear technologies to market.
- Stronger export credit financing programs and approaches. From a national security perspective, export financing is a critical priority. We need long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank and stronger approaches to export credit financing to compete in this global market.
- Our nuclear energy companies have to compete with countries; U.S. nuclear suppliers compete against state-owned and -supported enterprises in countries like Russia and China. Nearly two-thirds of the reactors being built around the world are of Chinese and Russian design. These projects will help Russia and China build what can be century-long relationships in important parts of the world.
- Progress by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to become a modern, safety-focused regulator. As the industry evolves, the NRC should continue to modernize policies and ensure the regulatory framework is not a barrier to nuclear innovation.
- Smart regulation of the industry is essential to the development and deployment of future nuclear technologies and the durability of the existing fleet.
- If the regulatory burden is too costly or creates too many delays, our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and compete against Russia and China will be stalled.
Sheryl Carter, Director, Power Sector, Climate & Clean Energy Program, NRDC
- Continued recognition of renewable energy and energy efficiency as the lowest cost resources by states, localities, utilities and grid operators: Already, state and utility 100% clean energy commitments cover more than 44.5 million U.S. homes and businesses — equal to about a quarter of all U.S. households. And more than 140 U.S. cities have also adopted 100% clean energy goals. Grid operators must not undercut these state policy choices.
- Nation-wide adoption of state-level energy efficiency commitments: Washington, Colorado and Hawaii have joined states like Vermont in setting energy and water efficiency standards for a range of appliances that will save residents more than $3 billion on their utility bills over the next 15 years.
- Positive trend in electric vehicle sales accelerates: In September, Amazon announced that it would have 100,000 electric delivery vehicles on the streets delivering packages by 2024, the largest purchase ever. UPS has announced that it is ordering electric trucks from manufacturers including Tesla, Workhorse and Thor, and rolling out battery-assisted bicycles for delivery in cities.
Robert Cowin, senior manager of government affairs, Union of Concerned Scientists
- Federal policies stimulate more clean energy, energy efficiency and grid technologies, while keeping communities engaged in the process: Tax credits have been essential in the development and deployment of our nation's wind, solar and other low-carbon clean energy sources. Many of these tax credits, however, are starting to phase down and are expiring. We want to new see Congress maintain and build on federal tax incentives to support nascent yet pivotal low-carbon technologies, including electric vehicles, energy storage and offshore wind.
- More states commit to and develop 100% clean energy policies: The U.S. needs to significantly reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, which currently provide more than 60% of the nation's electricity, by ramping up renewable energy and other low-carbon sources and increasing overall energy efficiency. Eight states, including New Mexico, Maine and Nevada, passed landmark policies in 2019 to support renewables and other carbon-free resources. With 13 other states pursuing similar 100% renewable or clean energy measures, 2020 will hopefully see a significant portion of the nation striving toward a carbon-free energy future. And as states take action to transition toward clean energy, Congress should follow the lead of the governments of Canada, Germany and Colorado and establish a task force to ensure a fair transition in fossil fuel-dependent communities.
- Innovative energy technology and infrastructure development that reduces U.S. vulnerability to climate impacts and modernizes our grid: We need a resilient, reliable electricity grid that prepares us for climate change and other emerging 21st century challenges. It's time to invest in updating our grid. We need a new federal infrastructure bill in 2020 that will modernize the electricity sector and the transportation sector, reinforce important environmental protections, and require investment in infrastructure for our most vulnerable communities. Furthermore, federal support for the research, development and demonstration of advanced energy storage and low-carbon technologies would go a long way toward shoring the nation's clean energy infrastructure for the future.
- Ensuring fairness to coal workers: Reflecting the market realities facing coal, another eight coal companies have declared bankruptcy in 2019. The most recent of these is the single largest contributor to the UMWA Pension Plan, which could now become insolvent as early as next year. Similar threats face the Multiemployer Health Benefit Plan. These health care and retirement benefits were promised to our nation's miners decades ago for their service to the country, and those promises should be honored. Congress should act immediately to pass S.2788, the Bipartisan American Miners Act, which would shore up both funds. It should also pass H.R. 3876, to shore up the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund by restoring the coal excise tax to the levels prior to expiration at the end of 2018. Finally, Congress should enact H.R., 2156, the RECLAIM Act, which would use existing funding to clean up abandoned mine lands and prioritize projects that spur local economic development.