I hope you showed up for work on time today. Yes, yesterday was the “Spring Forward” Daylight Saving Time day. The idea of daylight saving was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin during his sojourn as an American delegate in Paris in 1784. If you are saying “boy, it seems earlier than usual”, remember, it was bumped up as part of the 2007 Energy law to conserve more energy. DOE has Top 8 things you didn’t know about DST here. The fun doesn’t stop there: We are potentially getting a big snow storm tonight (hold on to your hats), Wednesday is the Ides of March and Friday is St. Patrick’s Day (a Friday SPD w/ March Madness is always pretty fun).
Okay, speaking of March Madness, it is also time to get those NCAA basketball brackets in shape as March Madness kicks off tomorrow (but in full swing Thursday). The top seeds are Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina and Gonzaga. If you are looking for sleepers, you might try SMU (30 wins), Vermont (21 straight wins) and Michigan (Big 10 Tourney Champs) after a strong conference tournament runs. For veteran teams in a down year that still could be dangerous: Michigan State and Wichita State. For real sleepers with good records: St. Mary’s, UT-Arlington and Middle Tennessee St. Whatever you do, get those Pools in by Thursday at Noon.
Well, everything we expected last week slipped to this week. That seems to be the pattern so far. Who knows if it will slip again given the impending snow storm. Currently, Wednesday the President is expected to travel to Detroit for fuel economy standard changes alongside auto execs. We also expect to see Presidential action on the Clean Power Plan, Coal leasing and other pieces of the Obama climate agenda. The President also is expected to meet with Angela Merkel tomorrow and while climate change won’t be a major issue, it may very well come up given the EU’s nervousness about the issue of continued U.S. participation.
Slow week in Congress while they turn to more high-priority items like the budget and health care. But weather pending, tomorrow, the Senate Energy Committee starts a look into energy infrastructure with NRECA member CEO Clay Kopin, folks from NHA, LIUNA Prez Terry O’Sullivan, Dominion’s Dian Leopold and BNEF (and Sustainable Energy Factbook co-author) Ethan Zindler.
Speaking of the Factbook, WCEE host a forum to detail it on Wednesday at Noon. On Thursday, ACORE hosts its annual policy forum at the W. It is a great line up and lots of good info.
During today’s E&E TV OnPoint, former Rep. Jim Matheson, now CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, explains what an executive order that unravels the Clean Power Plan could mean for his member groups and how electric co-ops plan to lobby the Trump administration on climate policy.
Finally, 10 days of South-By-Southwest (SXSW) launched this weekend and run through next weekend. SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries – with a healthy dose of politics . The event, an essential destination for global professionals, features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, We are all over it this week, whether it is Scott Pruitt and the magical science questions, CPP, Budget issues, RFS, tax issues or anything else. Call with questions…
“It would be hard to overstate how impressive 2016 was for the solar industry. Prices dropped to all-time lows, installations expanded in states across the country and job numbers soared. The bottom line is that more people are benefitting from solar now than at any point in the past, and while the market is changing, the broader trend over the next five years is going in one direction – and that’s up.”
Abigail Ross Hopper, Solar Energy Industries Assn president and CEO in announcing the US Solar market’s 2016 year-in-review.
IN THE NEWS
SAFE Calling to Attention to State Level Questions on AVs – Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) today is calling attention to dangerous state-level legislation that would restrict the development of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. The Safe Autonomous Vehicle Act, which has been introduced in Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and other states, would restrict the ability to test AVs only to those companies that manufacture automobiles. It also privileges specific AV ownership and use models, needlessly constraining experimentation with different commercialization strategies. SAFE CEO Robbie Diamond said, “If enacted, the SAVE Act would impose unfair competitive advantages that prevent both well-known technology leaders and emerging innovators from conducting the important testing that is necessary to develop breakthrough technologies. The consequence of the SAVE Act would be to crush competition in this nascent industry at the very moment when it is desperately needed.” AV technology holds the promise of introducing fuel competition in the transportation sector and dramatically reducing America’s oil dependence. Ninety-two percent of U.S. transportation is powered by oil, a volatile commodity supplied and controlled by countries that do not share U.S. strategic priorities. This singular dependence on oil jeopardizes American economic sovereignty and reorders U.S. foreign policy priorities. The OPEC cartel and National Oil Companies, which hold 90 percent of global reserves, exert undue influence over the global oil market. In contrast to free-market American producers, these companies serve as government entities which take non-market considerations into account in operating decisions, such as social and defense spending. In addition to the energy security benefits, AVs could significantly reduce the more than 35,000 deaths and two million injuries per year from roadway collisions, while expanding mobility and independence for 57 million Americans with disabilities and a growing senior population.
Groups Urge Support for Fossil Fuel Research – A group of labor unions, coal companies and other organizations are urging the Administration to support funding for fossil fuel energy research. “Federal support plays a major role in commercializing technology and making it cost-viable for the private sector,” they said in a letter. “We look forward to working with incoming Secretary of Energy Perry on these efforts, and hope your administration will support these important federal investments to secure America’s energy future.” Among the group signing the letter include ClearPath Action” Jay Faison, the United Mine Workers of America and the Coal Utilization Research Council, as well as several companies like Cloud Peak and Peabody.
Mead, Faison Address Advanced CCS Techs –Speaking of ClearPath, CEO Jay Faison and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead had an op-ed in the Washington Times over the Weekend focused on advancing clean coal and sequestration opportunities.
Study: Wind Could Add 35 GW by 2020 – A new study from Navigant Consulting and the American Wind Energy Association says the US has the potential to add 35 gigawatts of new installed wind capacity by the end of 2020. The report said that the wind industry is expected to support 248,000 jobs, including induced jobs, and drive $85 billion in economic investments during the same period.
Solar Booming – The U.S. solar market had its biggest year ever in 2016, nearly doubling its previous record and adding more electric generating capacity than any other source of energy for the first time ever. Over the next five years, the cumulative U.S. solar market is expected to nearly triple in size, even as a slight dip is expected in 2017. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced these historic figures today in the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2016 Year-in-Review report.
On average, U.S. solar photovoltaic (PV) system pricing fell by nearly 20 percent in 2016. This is the greatest average year-over-year price decline since GTM Research began modelling pricing in this report series. The report forecasts that an impressive 13.2 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV will be installed in the U.S. in 2017, a 10 percent drop from 2016, though still 75 percent more than was installed in 2015. The dip will occur solely in the utility-scale market, following the unprecedented number of utility-scale projects that came online in the latter half of 2016, most originally scheduled for completion before the original expiration of the federal Investment Tax Credit, which has since been extended. By 2019, the utility-scale segment is expected to rebound, with year-over-year growth across the board.
Rural Coops Adding Solar – Speaking of solar, it is booming in rural America as well. By the end of 2017, the total solar energy capacity of America’s electric cooperatives will be five times what it was two years ago, according to data released today by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. This year, co-ops are on pace to add 480 megawatts of solar, which would bring their total capacity to 873 MW. This more than quadruples the 180 MW reached in 2015 and represents a twenty-fold increase over the 37 MW capacity in 2010. In addition, over the last two years, cooperatives have expanded their solar footprint from 34 states to 44 states. Among states where co-ops have been actively developing solar, Georgia ranks first with a total of 122 MW, followed by New Mexico, Hawaii, Colorado, Arizona, Maryland and North Carolina.
Matheson Discusses CPP Impacts on Coops – Speaking of Rural coops, as mentioned earlier, former Rep. Jim Matheson, now CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, is featured in today’s E&E TV OnPoint to explain what an executive order that unravels the Clean Power Plan could mean for his member groups and how electric co-ops plan to lobby the Trump administration on climate policy.
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
Wilson Event to Look at China, Coal Impacts – The Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum will hold a forum this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. on coal and China’s climate and water issues. Speakers will dig behind these coal trends to discuss if they signify a near peak or if this is just a pause in coal consumption before another curve upwards. Barbara Finamore (NRDC) will discuss the decarbonization trends in the Chinese power sector and some of the obstacles the government faces as it pushes a clean energy future. Zhou Xizhou (IHS Markit) will talk about how China’s fossil fuel companies are adding more renewables while simultaneously investing in carbon- and water-intensive coal-to-gas and other coal conversion industries. Jennifer Turner will highlight some of the water risks that coal development poses for drought-sensitive western China.
Senate Energy Looks at Infrastructure – The Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. on opportunities to improve American energy infrastructure. Witnesses include Pacific Power CEO Stefan Bird, Carl Imhoff of the Pacific Northwest National Lab, Cordova Electric Cooperative CEO Clay Koplin, National Hydropower Association Deputy Executive Director Jeffrey Leahy, Dominion CEO Diane Leopold, LIUNA President Terry O’Sullivan and BNEF analyst Ethan Zindler.
Forum to Look at Transportation Project Benefits – The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the National League of Cities (NLC), and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will host a forum tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. to look at examples from communities across America of transportation investments that benefit the national economy, by creating direct and supply-side jobs while boosting regional economies. Speakers will include Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Paul Balmer, Legislative Assistant, speaking on behalf of Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). Other speakers include Sound Transit (Seattle, WA) head Peter Rogoff and Cleveland, OH City Councilmember Matt Zone, President of the National League of Cities.
House Transpo to Look at Highway Legislation – The House Transportation Subcommittee on Highways and Transit will hold a hearing on Wednesday at a10:00 a.m. on the FAST Act Implementation looking at state and local perspectives. Witnesses will include John Schroer, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation (on behalf of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO)); Gary Thomas, President and Executive Director, Dallas Area Rapid Transit on behalf of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA); and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, on behalf of the National League of Cities (NLC).
Post Forum to Look at 100 Days – On Wednesday morning, The Washington Post will host lawmakers and political analysts to assess President Trump’s first 50 days in office. They’ll discuss policy priorities in a Republican-led Washington, where Democrats can front opposition or find common ground, and how Trump’s approach to the presidency is resonating in the Beltway and beyond. Speakers include, former interim DNC chair Donna Brazile, former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, leader, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Sen. Joe Manchin, Wall Street Journal Columnist Peggy Noonan and Sen. David Perdue.
House Energy Looks at Hydro Generation – The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. looking at modernizing energy infrastructure. The hearing will focus on the challenges and opportunities to expanding hydropower generation. Witnesses include Chuck Hookham of the American Society of Civil Engineers; Kieran Connolly of the Bonneville Power Administration; Rye Development CEO Rayma Swaminathan, on behalf of the National Hydropower Association; and Dave Steindorf, California stewardship director for American Whitewater, on behalf of the Hydropower Reform Coalition.
Wilson to Premier Earth, Sky –The Wilson Center will host an environmental film premier of Between Earth and Sky on Wednesday at Noon. Mixing interviews with some of the world’s leading scientists in climate change and arctic soils, with the day to day struggle of native Alaskans living on the front lines of global warming, Between Earth and Sky attempts to highlight the challenge of climate change in places in Alaska.
WCEE Event to Focus on BCSE Factbook – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment will host an event on Wednesday discussing the Business Council on Sustainable Energy’s Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, which provides the latest industry information and trends from the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors in the United States. The Factbook is created to provide policymakers, journalists and industry professionals with up-to-date market information. The Factbook is free and available to download at www.bcse.org/sustainableenergyfactbook.
CSIS to Launch New Energy, Climate Series – CSIS Energy and National Security Program has launched a new high-level speaker series, Climate Change and National and Corporate Interest. This series will showcase a variety of country and corporate perspectives on their chosen pathways for pursuing a climate change strategy and why those actions are in their national or commercial interest. On Wednesday, CSIS will kick off the series with Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Canada has been notable in its commitment to thinking about climate change in a proactive way. As both a major energy consumer and producer, Canada’s perspective on how to pursue a climate change policy that ensures continued economic growth and stability is an important part of the ongoing dialogue about how best to tackle this global challenge. In 2016 the Pan-Canadian Framework for Climate Change was established, a plan that includes pricing pollution and measures to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions across all sectors, and to drive innovation and growth.
Pew to Look at Safeguarding Infrastructure From Severe Weather – The Pew Charitable Trusts holds a discussion on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. communities investing in resilient infrastructure. The event will focus on safeguarding the country’s infrastructure from the effects of severe weather. Hopefully it will not be cancelled by the severe weather.
ACORE Policy Forum Set – ACORE holds its annual national renewable policy forum on Thursday at the W Hotel in Washington D.C. Industry leaders and senior officials offer a pragmatic perspective on challenges and opportunities for the renewable energy industry in the new political alignment. Key topics include renewable energy’s importance to the American economy, the timing and outlook of the upcoming push for comprehensive federal tax reform, the prospects for a large-scale infrastructure initiative and the benefits of increased investment in renewables, grid expansion, resiliency, and modernization and the important role of state policy in the energy sector, and the potential for new and innovative state initiatives that promote renewable energy investment and deployment. Speakers include Brightsource Energy’s Joe Desmond BNEF’s Ethan Zindler, AWEA’s Jim Reilly, SEIA’s Tom Kimbis and several others.
Big Data Forum on Renewables Set – Alongside the ACORE forum st 9:00 a.m. at the W, Kaiserwetter of Germany will present the latest Big Data methods it is usung to optimize clean electricity generation including financial, technical and environmental oriented asset management for power plants and projects under the assumption that these analytical tools should be of great help to multilateral agencies, regardless of who finally provides the specific services.
USEA to Discuss Fuel Cells, Carbon Capture – On Thursday at 10:00 a.m., the U.S. Energy Association hosts a forum on CO2 Capture Utilizing Fuel Cells. Efficiently and affordably capturing CO2 from utility scale power generation is a global challenge and a large potential market opportunity. Conventional carbon capture technologies use power and represent an expense. FuelCell Energy and ExxonMobil are advancing a novel application for installing carbonate fuel cells at combustion-based power plants to efficiently capture CO2 while simultaneously producing power from the fuel cells. Affordable and scalable, fuel cell carbon capture is a potential game-changer. This presentation will explain fuel cell carbon capture supported with discussion of a demonstration project to be placed at Plant Barry, a mixed coal/gas-fired plant owned by Alabama Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company. Speakers include Exxon’s Michael Kerby and FuelCell Energy’s Tony Leo and Frank Wolak.
Forum to Look at Mexico, US Energy Trade – The Atlantic Council holds a discussion on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. looking at the future of the U.S.-Mexico energy relationship. The event will feature a conversation with Lourdes Melgar of the MIT Center for International Studies. Melgar is the former Deputy Secretary of Energy for Hydrocarbons in Mexico.
Forum to Look at Efficiency in Infrastructure – The Alliance to Save Energy will hold an event on Thursday at 12:15 p.m. looking at the role of energy efficiency in infrastructure investments. The session will outline the role of energy efficiency policy as an indispensable element of what has been a major policy theme for the new administration and members of the 115th Congress: infrastructure. Briefing attendees will hear from business leaders about the importance of energy efficiency policy in a diverse range of energy sectors: transportation, utility, buildings, water and finance. Following panelist presentations, the moderator will open the briefing for questions from attendees.
Forum to Look at Climate Stories from Field – WWF and Columbia University will host a forum on the ADVANCE program Thursday at 4:00 p.m. ADVANCE was launched in 2015 as a new partnership between WWF and Columbia’s Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR) with the main goal of providing new ways of generating and integrating climate risk information into conservation and development planning. Through a process known as “co-generating” climate information, ADVANCE team members consult directly with stakeholders through personal, in-country stakeholder consultation and use the latest modeling tools to analyze climate trends and create localized climate projections for WWF project landscapes. This presentation will highlight experiences in Bhutan, Myanmar, Colombia and Kyrgyzstan, focusing on early lessons learned and best practices for improving climate risk information for stakeholders to create maximum usability and uptake at multiple scales. The speaker will be Ryan Bartlett, Senior Specialist for Climate Resilience at WWF.
Group to Toast Former EIA Head – The NCAC, USAEE, and IAEE will hold a special event on Thursday evening on Thursday night that will feature a roast ‘n Toast of former EIA Head Adam Sieminski. The event will feature live music provided by former White House economist Bob McNally and his band “Sound Policy” featuring fellow NCAC members and energy wonks Dan Poneman and Kevin Book.
WAPA Gala Set – The Washington Automotive Press Assn will hold its annual “non” gala on Thursday at Pinstripes in Georgetown for an evening of drinks, dinner, networking, and some sporting fun courtesy of Nissan, with automotive journalism’s industry leaders from around the area and the nation.
API to Discuss 100 Days of Action – The American Petroleum Institute (API) holds a media briefing on the first 100 days of the new Congress and Trump Administration Friday at 9:00 a.m. in 2168 Rayburn. The event will focus on the importance of oil and gas in American consumers’ day-to-day lives.
IN THE FUTURE
Carnegie Nuclear Forum Set – Next Monday and Tuesday, the 2017 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference will bring together over 800 experts and officials from more than forty-five countries and international organizations. The conference takes place on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s conclusion. Most observers credit the treaty with playing a pivotal role in stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Today, however, its continued efficacy is in doubt as disagreements grow over the implementation of each of its three main “pillars”—nonproliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. A number of panels at the conference will focus on debates surrounding treaty’s core articles, as well as on questions of how to manage its nonmembers and sole former member. Other panels will consider the future of global nuclear order, as well as emerging trends in deterrence, disarmament, nonproliferation, nuclear security, and nuclear energy.
Forum to Look at Future of China Solar Power – Next Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings will host an event featuring the launch of “The New Solar System,” a major new study from Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, a joint initiative of Stanford’s law and business schools. The result of two years of research, “The New Solar System” illuminates key and little-understood changes that are remaking the solar enterprise in China—and, as a result, solar power around the world. Based on the authors’ analysis, “The New Solar System” recommends changes to U.S. solar policy that would put solar power on a more economically sensible course and would help meet global carbon-reduction goals. Report authors Jeffrey Ball and Dan Reicher will present key findings before engaging in a broader conversation with Brookings Senior Fellow Emeritus Kenneth G. Lieberthal. After the discussion, the participants will take questions from the audience.
Ethanol Group Hosts Fly-In – The American Coalition for Ethanol holds Its 9th annual DC Fly-In on Wednesday and Thursday, March 22-23. The meetings will take place at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel and on Capitol Hill.
DC Bar Hosts Climate Forum – The Environmental Law Institute and the DC Bar hosts a forum looking at the climate policy outlook for 2017. Speakers will include Vicki Arroyo of the Georgetown Climate Center, NRDC’s David Doniger and Karen Florini, Former Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change at the Department of State.
Heartland Climate Conference Set – The 12th International Conference on Climate Change, taking place on Thursday and Friday, March 23–24 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC. ICCC-12 is hosted by The Heartland Institute. See the speakers, including Myron Ebell, here.
BPC to Look at Energy Trade – On Thursday, March 23rd at 2:00 p.m, the Bipartisan Policy Center will hold a forum on expanding the benefits North American energy trade. The United States, Mexico, and Canada have long been strong partners in energy cooperation and trade. Over the past several years, those ties have deepened as energy trade has increased substantially, and Mexico’s energy reforms have created new opportunities. As the administration pushes forward with potential changes to NAFTA, what might be the impact on energy trade across North America? The panelists will include Mexico’s Former Deputy Secretary of Energy for Hydrocarbons Lourdes Melgar, Wilson Center’s Canada Institute Director Laura Dawson and Gary Hufbauer, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Pollution Control Agencies Set Spring Meeting – The Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies’ 2017 Spring Meeting will be held in Tucson, Arizona from March 27 – 29 at the Hilton Tucson East Hotel. More on this in the future.
Chicago-Hamilton to Look at Energy, New Congress – The University of Chicago Energy Center will be hosting a forum with the Hamilton Project at Brookings on March 27. The event is a half-day forum focused on opportunities for progress on energy policy in the new congress and administration. There will be sessions focused on R&D, infrastructure, CAFE reform, and carbon pricing.
DOE Oil, Gas Office Expert to Address NatGas Roundtable – The Natural Gas Roundtable is pleased to announce that Robert J. Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy, will be the featured guest speaker at the Natural Gas Roundtable luncheon on Tuesday, March 28th at the University Club. Smith administers oil and gas programs, including research and development, analysis and natural gas regulation. Most recently, Smith was the Chief of Staff for the Office of Fossil Energy. In this capacity, Smith helped the Assistant Secretary with policy and management issues across the office’s research and development, energy security and regulatory missions.
Grid Forum Set for Chicago – The 2nd Grid Modernization Forum will be held on April 3rd-5th in Chicago, examines key lessons from top utilities including Eversource, Alliant Energy, Con Edison, National Grid, Ameren and many others. Key technology innovators and executives will come together to share perspectives on how best to leverage AMI investment, engage the customer, and take the smart grid to the next level. Case studies of improved network performance, resiliency, outage restoration, and distributed energy resource (DER) integration will be examined with an eye toward determining best practices and technology advances for today’s energy ecosystem.
Electric Power Conference Set for Chicago – The 19th annual Electric Power Conference will be held In Chicago on April 10-13th at McCormick Place. Sponsored by POWER magazine, the event provides a platform for power generation professionals to meet, network, and address the critical issues facing the power industry.
Energy Storage Conference Set for Denver – The 27th Energy Storage Association annual conference and expo will be held on April 18-20 in Denver, Colorado. Keynote speakers and expert panelists on the program include Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, RES CEO Ivor Catto, former CO Gov Bill Ritter and NextEra Energy exec Michael O’Sullivan.
Water Power Conference Set for May – Waterpower week in Washington will be May 1st through 3rd, providing three great conferences into one when IMREC, METS and NHA’s Annual Conference are held at the Capital Hilton. The event will discuss policy changes in the hydro and marine industry in an all-in-one event. The event highlights perspectives on the role of hydro, explores issues affecting hydro and marine resources, and helps participants develop a future game plan to meet challenges and ensure the future sustainability of the hydro and marine industry.