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| ||Judith Albert, E2 Executive Director |
“Your stories! We want your stories!”
That’s the word from Congressional offices we visit. It’s the message from policymakers who want (and need) to understand the impact of programs and regulations ‘on the ground.’ At a time when political discourse has deteriorated, stories about real people investing in real businesses and creating real jobs have become more important than ever.
We launched the Clean Energy Jobs Newsletter this year – What clean energy jobs? These clean energy jobs!
— as one way to let Congress and others know that a transformation Is underway. We’ve been showcasing E2 members’ companies in the newsletter, demonstrating the breadth of the clean economy. Our newsletter is gaining momentum, being re-tweeted by legislators and cited in the Huffington Post. Tell us about your companies, and we’ll spread the word.
One of the pleasures of my job has been getting to know E2 members. You’re an amazing group. The E2 Washington DC Forum in November was attended by members engaged in a wide range of activities, who share a desire to safeguard the environment while building a 21st century economy. Among the delegation, we had investors and entrepreneurs involved in everything from electric vehicles and advanced lighting to biogas, natural gas, forestry, and waste reduction. We had members in “traditional’ businesses (such as hotel management or health insurance) whose operations have benefitted from the growth of clean technology in their regions. In our meeting with Sen. Sherrod Brown we had a chance to explore the interplay between natural gas, renewable energy, policy, and jobs, thanks to the fact that we had members who could speak first-hand to each of those points.
Over the next year, E2 is planning to expand our communications outreach. We’ve got to get out the message: The clean economy is happening now, and it can be a driver of the American economy.
I look forward to working with you to make that a reality. Here’s to 2012!
E2 Executive Director
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| ||Marc Boom, E2 Federal Legislative Advocate |
When I joined E2 in January, I was impressed with how E2 has helped steer the national conversation on environmental policies toward reasoned, economically sound arguments, and I looked forward to sharing that positive message with decision-makers here in Washington. At the time, I did not anticipate just how vitally important E2’s economic viewpoint would be in the current political climate.
In a year when everyone thought Congress would focus on creating jobs, we have seen the complete opposite: efforts to cut government spending and eliminate environmental and public health protections have emerged with renewed vigor. Out of 770 votes in the House of Representatives this year, 191 (22%) were votes to undermine environmental protections. 27 of those votes were against climate change mitigation, 77 were against Clean Air Act protections, 28 were against Clean Water Act protections, and 47 were against protection of public lands and coastal waters. Furthermore, the House has repeatedly tried to force these provisions into must-pass spending bills in an attempt to push them past the Senate and the President.
Our federal advocacy activities have been in high gear, helping stop almost all of these attacks from succeeding. This year E2 sent out 10 national Action Alert petitions to Congress and the President. Beyond defending against attacks on environmental safeguards, we’ve supported several important policy initiatives at the administrative level, notably issuance of strengthened fuel economy standards and the Mercury Toxics rules, and the Department of Defense’s initiatives in the energy security/energy efficiency arena.
E2’s physical presence in Washington has increased. Our advocacy teams have been in D.C. almost every 60 days, and for the first time our chapters focused on visiting with lawmakers in their state offices as well. E2 has held over 80 meetings with House and Senate legislators and briefed a total of 116 Congress members through House caucuses. E2 has also had 15 meetings with agencies including the EPA, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and the White House.
E2’s efforts have extended beyond Washington and entered into nationwide discourse. Through op-ed’s, letters, and quotations, E2 has received at least 288 mentions in publications nationwide. E2 launched a nationwide radio tour this fall to discuss the clean energy economy and the need for proactive federal policy, resulting in 22 radio interviews in 17 states reaching an estimated 500,000 listeners; in total, we’ve reached more than 3 million listeners since our first radio tour. Additionally, E2 has teamed up with NRDC’s Center for Market Innovation to produce a weekly clean energy newsletter, which catalogs the ongoing progress of the clean economy and is targeted at members of Congress.
The work of our members has bolstered E2’s reputation in Washington and made us a key part of the herculean defense needed this year – a defense that has been incredibly successful. There is a sports adage that says “Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.” I believe that to be the case here. While there will be many challenges in the year to come, if E2 continues to put forth the efforts witnessed this year, I believe we will continue to see more success than defeat.
E2 Federal Legislative Advocate
After passing the Massachusetts House and Senate with overwhelming support, in July 2008 Governor Patrick signed the Green Communities Act, a comprehensive, landmark energy bill that set the Commonwealth on path to be more efficient, more diverse, and less polluting while creating more jobs in Massachusetts.
A Record of Success
The Green Communities Act is already working. It is creating new jobs, driving down the costs of clean energy, and leading to a more sustainable, predictable and productive regional economy. Energy bills and rates have dropped or stabilized; the clean energy sector has grown to over 64,000 workers and nearly 5,000 firms. The sector grew by an impressive 6.7% in 2010 compared to a little over 1% for the rest of the state’s economy. Because of the efficiency investments made possible by GCA, Massachusetts was ranked # 1 in energy efficiency
in the nation in 2011, overtaking California for the first time.
Despite this impressive record of success, several small but influential groups are attacking the bill because they claim that the cost to ratepayers is too high. The State’s Attorney General, Martha Coakley, and others suggested changes to the bill that would significantly reduce the state’s ability to generate local renewable energy and endanger the outstanding progress made on energy efficiency.
E2, together with the New England Clean Energy Council and other groups, is working to respond to these attacks. Attacks Focus on Costs but Ignore Benefits
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The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs completed an exhaustive report on the costs and benefits of the GCA
. It concluded that at $2.5 billion, the benefits expected to accrue to electric customers are nearly two and half times greater than $1.1 billion cost of implementing these initiatives — representing a prudent investment for ratepayers and the Commonwealth. In terms of utility bills, the lifetime benefits of each year’s program activities can also be described as $0.028 per kWh for 2010, increasing to $0.048 for 2015, while the costs are well less than half of those amounts — $0.010 per kWh for 2010 and $0.021 for 2015.
Nevertheless, the Attorney General stated
that “the costs of the GCA programs are projected to be in excess of $4 billion over the next 4 years and will cause the total delivered cost of electricity to rise an estimated 1 to 2 cents per kilowatt hour or 7 percent over the next 4 years.”
These numbers are based on data from the very same report referenced above. However, the Attorney General’s statements solely used cost data and did not include the projected benefits of the GCA that are clearly stated in the report. While an average 700-kilowatt per month customer might pay an additional $0.011 per kilowatt-hour or $7 per month in 2015, that increase would be offset by benefits that are worth double that amount or $14 per month. Massachusetts Residential Rates and Bills Are Trending Down
High-energy costs are nothing new for New England, for the simple reason that our region has no oil, coal, or natural gas of our own. Nonetheless, over the last few years, Massachusetts’ energy costs have declined, with the Commonwealth becoming more competitive compared to other New England and Mid-Atlantic states.
In the three years since the Green Communities Act was passed, the average Massachusetts consumer has seen a decrease in both residential rates and monthly bills, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. As Massachusetts has become more energy efficient, through efforts like those dramatically expanded by the Green Communities Act, the average residential electric bill has dropped relative to other states. Massachusetts’ average monthly bill dropped from $109 in 2008, when 33 states had lower household bills, to $97 in 2010, with only 20 states having lower bills.
Moreover, average rates have also declined from 17.7 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2008 to 14.6 cents in 2010. In 2008, Massachusetts had the 4th highest residential rate in the nation, while in 2010 we were down to 11th. Opponents’ Proposal Would Devastate Homegrown Renewables
The bill’s opponents focused many of their attacks on the renewable energy portion of the bill. They advocate for renewable energy contracts that are competitively bid and awarded to the “least cost” option on a ‘technology neutral’ basis.
While this sounds reasonable on the surface, peeling back the actual impact shows that this would have a devastating effect on the state’s homegrown renewable industry. It would dramatically reduce future renewable energy options and would not be in the Commonwealth’s or ratepayer’s best interest.
The real issue is a fundamental difference between the “least cost” and “cost-effective”. The GCA now requires a showing that any long-term purchase is "cost-effective," a statutory standard that considers all costs and benefits, including costs and benefits of complying with existing and anticipated future federal and state environmental requirements as well as four factors identified in the law: price, contribution to system reliability, contribution to serving customers at peak periods, and job creation. A "least cost" proposal would prohibit any consideration of these important attributes.
If the only criteria were today’s lowest price of generation, the winners would invariably be out of state projects that would send our money and potential jobs out of state, since Canada’s hydro and Maine’s wind power provide today’s lowest cost renewable energy. One other important impact of the proposed changes would be to eliminate Cape Wind, the State’s landmark off shore wind project that has been in development for over 10 years and recently passed all of its environmental hurdles. Some speculate that this is the real agenda of the bill’s opponents.
A “technology neutral” approach would have extremely negative impacts on emerging segments of the local renewable industry, essentially eliminating a wide range of renewable options such as solar power, geothermal, fuel cells, anaerobic digestion and a vast array of other technologies that are currently under development -- and limit our state’s ability to diversify its energy sources.
Since no one can predict which of the many renewable technologies in today’s pipeline will be the most cost-effective over the long run, the approach advocated by opponents would lock the state into a short term low cost option that will have unforeseen higher costs in the future - much like a sub-prime balloon mortgage.
Homegrown renewable energy provides long-term price stability by creating a broad portfolio of local energy resources as a hedge against volatile fossil fuel prices and increasing reliability of the system. Moreover, the revenues generated by local renewables stay here in Massachusetts and are recycled into our local economy providing a much needed multiplier effect.
With cleantech forecasted to be a $5-10 trillion global industry in the coming years, Massachusetts needs to encourage the growth of many different sectors of the cleantech industry to enable and encourage future global market leaders to locate their facilities here in the Commonwealth.
Massachusetts has built a world-class clean energy cluster over the past few years. Based on its unique strengths in cleantech innovation, university, entrepreneurial, and financial communities have combined in recent years to make Massachusetts second only to California in cleantech startups, venture capital, jobs, and overall growth of its clean energy innovation clusters.
But any new industry cannot just consist of innovation. There needs to be the ability to implement and sell the technology locally in order for the innovation to flourish. Just as the biotech and medical device industry has many ready customers here in Massachusetts, our renewable energy companies also require a local market for their products. We Need Your Help!
Watch for additional updates early in the New Year on ways to show support and contact E2 Director Berl Hartman at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have additional insights and/or key relationships to leverage.
On December 16th, California’s Air Resources Board voted unanimously to uphold the carbon reduction targets of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, the state’s plan to reduce the carbon intensity of fuel by 10% by 2020.
The regulation has come under fire by industry organizations like Western States Petroleum Association, who claim that the LCFS cannot be met in later years of the program due to lack of fuel availability. During 2011, E2's Advanced Biofuel Market Report
was published and provided evidence that the LCFS goals can be met.
In concert with other groups, E2 testified that strengthening the LCFS would provide the investor certainty needed to expand production of low carbon fuels. Fuel providers Solazyme, Inbicon, Clean Energy, Pacific Ethanol, and DuPont all testified on the dropping production costs of biofuels and clean jobs provided by their companies.
Air Resources Board responded by giving the certainty requested in its unanimous vote, and including a provision to directly account for high carbon crude oils. This provision will make the use of tar sands in California very costly and less appealing to refineries.
Prior to the Board hearing, E2 delivered a letter
on behalf of the low carbon fuel industry & investors, coordinated a team of speakers, Op-Eds
, and met with Board members individually to educate & support this vote.
E2 has proposed an expansion to the credit trading market (see E2 Proposal for Expansiuon of LCFS Credit Trading
) to increase the financial benefit of producing lower carbon fuels. E2 will begin working on this expansion and other program augmentations in 2012.
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|L to R: John Cusack, Judith Albert, Rona Fried, and Marlys Appleton || |
December 13 , 2011 – This holiday season we decided to mix things up here at E2, holding a joint holiday party in New York with NRDC’s Center for Market Innovation. E2 members, together with friends of E2 and CMI, came together for an animated evening of conversation and cheer. We look forward to continuing our work with our long-time members, and as we continue to expand our network, we are excited about the possibilities that new partnerships and opportunities bring.
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