ACORE held its annual policy forum on March 28th. The morning keynote speaker was Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Ms McCarthy discussed the carbon rule which she expected to be announced in June. While Ms McCarthy would not discuss the rule in detail, she indicated that great effort had been made to have a balanced approach while carrying out the President’s order to reduce carbon from power plants. She emphasized that EPA is only interested in reducing carbon not in the technology that achieves that goal.
The afternoon keynote speech was given by Secretary Ernest Moniz of the Department of Energy. He maintained that DOE’s goal is to make sure that the US energy supply is affordable, plentiful and reduces carbon to the extent possible without threatening supply and affordability. He further stated that DOE and EPA – along with other departments and agencies of the Federal Government – work together to achieve the goals set by the President and Congress.
The Secretary and the Administrator were joined by two US Senators and a Member of the House of Representatives. Congressman Sandy Levin of Michigan and the ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee was joined by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. Both spoke to the issue of innovation and policy. Senator Whitehouse was optimistic that the public would force action before the end of the year. Congressman Levin was more circumspect but also called for action. Innovation and research and development are no longer funded to the extent needed and, if the US is to remain a leader, this must be turned around.
Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii lauded her state for being a leader in supporting deployment of many renewable energy technologies. Hawaii has the highest electricity rates in the nation because it uses diesel for much of its power generation.
For the first time, ACORE brought together what they called the nine families to talk about the future of the many sectors of renewable energy. Michael McAdams represented the advanced biofuels industry; Tom Kiernan spoke on behalf of AWEA – American Wind Energy Association – Bob Cleaves presented for the biomass power sector and Ted Michaels for the Energy Recovery Council. Geothermal was represented by Karl Gawell, Tom Buis spoke for Growth Energy and biofuels; Hydropower was represented by Linda Church Ciocci; ocean power by Sean O’Neill; and solar by Rhone Resch. All were optimistic about the future with wind and solar closest to arriving at the tipping point where renewables are competing and winning over fossil fuels.