At Advanced Energy Now | East, Business and Government Leaders Focus on Ways to Drive Advanced Energy Growth

Posted by Laura Bartsch on Jun 20, 2019 11:00:00 AM

AEN East 2019 Patron Barton ONeill-730

Do we really need another conference to talk about energy? On June 13, in Richmond, VA, AEE answered that question with a resounding “yes,” as we launched our first regional policy conference, Advanced Energy Now | East, an event to showcase our members and our systems approach to policy transformation, for the purpose of increasing market opportunities for advanced energy companies. In a day packed with panels and breakout sessions, the more than 170 participants heard government and industry leaders speak on topics of vital interest to companies involved in a wide range of advanced energy technologies.

Kicking off the day with our morning keynote "Getting to 100% Clean," AEE President Heather O’Neill sat down for a fireside chat with NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton and Microsoft Director of Sustainability Policy Michelle Patron to discuss why their respective entities are making big commitments, how they plan to get there, and the biggest obstacles that need to be overcome. When asked what advice they had for others looking to match their ambitious goals, Barton responded, “There’s no one size fits all solution. There's a huge opportunity to embrace the challenge. Look at the track record. Every time we’ve set these goals, we’ve achieved the goals faster and at a cheaper cost than expected.” But to overcome policy barriers, she said, “We need corporate leaders like Microsoft to educate us on what customers want and what project developers need. We can’t effectively address these issues unless you educate us.”

The day’s agenda reflected AEE’s fundamental understanding that you cannot get to 100% clean — or any target along the way — without a systems approach: the whole generation and delivery infrastructure needs to be looked at holistically, with solutions that dovetail, interconnect, and combine to build a secure, clean, and affordable energy system. This understanding is reflected in our multi-technology membership, which includes tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Google; advanced energy companies like Apex Clean Energy, Ørsted, and Recurrent Energy; and advanced transportation companies like Greenlots, EVgo and eMotorwerks. And it’s reflected in our policy activity, which presents policy makers with comprehensive solutions involving – and benefiting – multiple technologies.

“AEE is changing minds by educating policy makers about what is possible with technologies that make up the advanced energy economy today,” said AEE CEO Nat Kreamer, speaking about AEE’s approach to both convenings like Advanced Energy Now | East and to our advocacy. “We are advocating for policy change that enables companies to compete in the market recognizing that, increasingly, advanced energy technologies provide the most cost-effective solution and bring significant additional benefits when compared with incumbent technologies.”

Sessions throughout the day (check out this podcast covering the full conference from our partner North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association) addressed critical questions in topics such as:

  • "Beneficial electrification" is the new buzzword for the electric power system, but what does success look like? (You can read about this discussion in S&P Global Market Intelligence)
  • Business Models for Energy Storage and Distributed Energy Resources in Wholesale Markets — a discussion on new business models and how jurisdictional and other concerns are being addressed
  • Unlocking New Opportunities for Voluntary Renewable Buyers — what can we learn from the first 15 GW of renewable energy purchased directly by businesses that will help to accelerate the expansion of this market into new states—like the Southeast—and to new buyers—like cities and universities?
  • As the US offshore wind industry is rapidly scaling, with leases shattering prior auction prices and major project announcements up and down the east coast, which region will capture the benefits?
  • What is the role of energy efficiency on a cleaner grid in the context of relatively flat load growth? Is energy efficiency still the least cost next kilowatt-hour?  (This topic was also covered in the article mentioned above.)
  • Many states have recently begun to reconsider how they undertake both utility-scale generation and distribution-level resource planning as well as resource procurement, spurred on by rapid improvements and cost declines in advanced energy technologies. What are emerging best practices in integrated resource planning and distribution system planning?   

One goal of our new Advanced Energy Now conference series is to look at policy across a given region. Building on the theme of sharing and defining best practices, our lunchtime plenary panel focused on state leadership for advanced energy now. This conversation, moderated by Steve Caminati of Apex Clean Energy (a Platinum sponsor of the conference), included key state advisors and agency leaders who are defining the strategies that states are using to transition to a carbon-restrained economy that embraces the full suite of advanced energy solutions. Participants included Chris Bast, Deputy Director, Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia; Kelley Burk, Director, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Office of Energy, Florida; Anna Lising, Associate Director. Department of Energy & Environment, Washington, D.C.; and Jeremy Tarr, Policy Advisor for Environment, Energy and Transportation, Office of Governor Roy Cooper, North Carolina. A message that resonated from the panel was, “We have a clean energy future ahead of us and we need to be thinking about that today.”

Afternoon Keynote-McEachin 730

This same theme was present in our final session of the day. Held up by a vote on Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA, 4th District) joined us by video link to be interviewed by Robert Zullo, Editor-in-Chief of the Virginia Mercury. Congressman McEachin shared his belief that while the federal government is probably best suited to address climate change in the long run, there is a critical need for policy change at the state level. In discussing his view for Virginia specifically, the Congressman shared that he’d like to see the Commonwealth push harder on regional initiatives — like RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative), offshore wind, and resilience — but he can see a clear path to Virginia’s energy transformation. “We can be the Green Dominion, not just the Old Dominion,” he said.

AEE is working to help Virginia, and multiple other states, forge that path. We are educating decision-makers, and we are focused on a core portfolio of legislative and regulatory policy activity that holds the potential to open approximately $684 billion in total estimated market opportunity in the next three years. We are building tools like PowerSuite to streamline the ability to track and act on policy across all 50 states. We are convening for action at events like Advanced Energy Now | East — and now Advanced Energy Now | West, coming October 16-17, in Scottsdale, AZ. Care to join us?

Register for Advanced Energy Now | West

Topics: Advanced Energy Now Events