As we stumble into the year’s end, bleary-eyed from an unusually busy month that saw some huge steps forward–like approval of the government funding bill that includes key priorities for clean tech–and some disappointment–like the decision not to expand and extend the investment tax credit–we look to 2020 for additional progress.
First, the House of Representatives has been seriously taking up the topic of climate change with Members in both parties feeling the impact of the crisis at their doorsteps. Speaker Pelosi charged the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis with issuing a report in the first quarter of 2020 outlining cross-sector climate policy recommendations. Energy and Commerce has released their climate bill discussion draft packed full of ideas. Science Committee has been busy on grid modernization and resilience. Even Rules Committee has looked critically at all the Supplemental funding requests for disaster mitigation and wondered if there is anything to do on pre-emptive policy. In many of these venues, I was called to testify on distributed solutions and enabling technologies (Climate Crisis, Science, Rules). In each case, questions on both sides of the aisle were probing and informed. Congress wants to take action and needs good ideas to implement.
Second, the government still needs to get things done, so agency Appropriations funding, Defense Authorization, Surface Transportation, and Safe Drinking Water bills all have to work their way through Congress in 2020, providing opportunities for clean energy and innovation to be authorized and funded. For example, bills like the BEST (Better Energy Storage Technology) Act (S. 1602 and H.R. 2986) have been teed up with bipartisan support in both chambers. The National Climate Bank Act (S. 2057 and H.R. 5416) was introduced in the House and Senate, authorizing a non-profit that enables creative financing mechanisms to leverage public and private sector capital for clean energy projects in all communities.
Third, the tax code will still need some updating. The limited energy extenders package agreed to in late 2019 will expire in 2020 and needs to be addressed, as will energy storage, electric vehicles, and offshore wind, all of which were dropped in the final hours of 2019 negotiations. We will continue to advocate for inclusion of these technologies, but there may be openings for other ways to use the tax code—for microgrids or other clean and innovative technologies—that address a host of issues such as resilience, manufacturing, and infrastructure.
Finally, we are constantly seeking ways in which entrepreneurial companies in the U.S. can show global leadership. As the innovator to the world, U.S. companies have the chance to provide solutions that can reap enormous economic benefits to our nation while also solving a global crisis. We partner with innovators in ways that ensure public policy enhances their business, whether by working with Congress and the Administration, or in states and internationally. We believe 2020 will be busy, exciting, and full of opportunities for these companies and organizations that hope to change the world. We look forward to working with you!