We closed out 2017 after fighting successfully to remove the most damning provisions for clean energy from the tax bill. With that bill now law, we will need the rest of this year and, perhaps, several more, to figure out how the new tax code will impact innovative industries.
With the tax bill off Congress’s docket, we expect legislators to turn their attention to other must-pass issues including a budget deal (current funding expires on the 19th), the debt ceiling, and an agreement on immigrants impacted by the President’s decision to remove protections known Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The President’s top goal for 2018 is infrastructure, a potential $1 Trillion in federal, state, and private sector partnership programs. Sub-sectors like microgrids, cyber technologies, artificial intelligence and robotics, agriculture innovation, energy storage, and grid infrastructure all stand to gain from such initiatives. There will also be interesting opportunities for companies in the clean energy sector to engage as Congress considers a new Farm Bill, agency appropriations, Defense authorization, and grid modernization and security.
Regulatory policy will also be paramount and of intense focus—both in states and in the wholesale market regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. We expect the spirit of the DOE Grid Resilience rulemaking, designed to help “baseload” power plants, not stop at “no” but to continue wending its way through its own and other dockets at FERC. In addition, energy storage and distributed energy resources could have a seat at the table in several pending rulemakings. We will continue to build the record on the benefits of those technologies and applications.
On climate policy, states and regions will remain the leaders, moving ahead in many cases with greenhouse gas reduction implementation and keeping the U.S. in line with its Paris goals, even if the political will has moved away from federal leadership. Don’t expect an economy-wide carbon tax in the U.S., but the chatter will continue and action will start in a few states and other countries to put a price on carbon.
At 38 North Solutions, we will continue to leverage our technical and policy expertise in our bipartisan way, serving as a periscope and pushing the envelope for our clients to ensure that sustainable organizations and businesses can grow with smart public policy.