There’s no shortage of advanced energy news out of Washington this week. The President’s budget was released Tuesday, featuring a doubling of funding for clean energy research. The Senate took up the first serious attempt at comprehensive energy reform in years, but then put it off for another day. But, on Tuesday, one piece of news dominated the advanced energy news cycle out of Washington, D.C.: The Supreme Court decided to stay the Clean Power Plan (CPP). What does that mean for advanced energy? And what is being said about it in the media?
In late January, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied a request from a coalition of states and private interests to stay implementation of the CPP pending the resolution of legal issues. Most parties expected further legal action to be delayed until June 2, when the D.C. Circuit was to hear oral arguments on the legality of the CPP. Undeterred, the coalition took their appeal for a stay to the Supreme Court, which, in a rare move, decided 5-4 to overturn the D.C. Circuit opinion and impose a stay.
That the Supreme Court weighed in on the CPP is not what’s surprising: most everyone expected a challenge of EPA’s authority to implement the policy, and that the challenge would ultimately reach the Supreme Court. But a stay from the Supremes was unusual, to say the least. The New York Times called it “unprecedented”: the Supreme Court “had never before granted a request to halt a regulation before review by a federal appeals court.”
While grinding CPP implementation to a halt, a stay of the rule is nothing more than a hiatus while the case is considered on the merits. As GreenBiz writer Barbara Grady points out, although it “may seem easy to dismiss [CPP] as another intractable logjam” of policy, it “has a very decent chance of becoming law of the land [...] and if and when it does become law, it will be a game changer in energy generation in this country,” according to both critics and advocates.
Moreover, As Chris Mooney writes in The Washington Post, the U.S. has already been going through “something that looks a lot like the kind of transition [CPP] is meant to prompt even without the plan in place.” The U.S. has been steadily moving toward a more advanced energy system by integrating distributed resources and switching to natural gas. As AEE’s Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs, Malcolm Woolf, said in a statement released by AEE in response to the Supreme Court’s decision, “we are witnessing the inevitable rise of better technology designed to meet the energy needs of the 21st century, and we feel confident that, upon full review, the rule will be upheld on the merits.” (Advanced Energy Perspectives has more to say about the stay here.)
Greentech Media's Julia Pyper, quoting AEE's Woolf, noted the "chill in investment" the stay could cause in the short term but also saw trends consistent with CPP continuing unabated. Observing the activity on the floor at Distributech, Woolf said "I don't think it's had much of a ripple here." And Pyper quoted an Edison Electric Institute vice president saying its utility members “are united in their focus on delivering the clean energy future that customers want and expect.”
Many states have decided to carry on with plans to prepare for the CPP despite the Court’s ruling. Colorado, California, New York, Oregon, Virginia, and others are moving forward with stakeholder processes to plan for the implementation of the CPP. Minnesota announced it would be moving forward with the third listening session on the CPP via tweet, stating “#CleanPowerPlanMN is moving forward – attend our listening session in @VisitBemidji next week – We want your input!”
Meanwhile, AEE members are making headlines literally from coast to coast. First, Silver Spring Networks announced a major deal to supply Con Edison and Orange & Rockland Utilities with 5.2 million smart meters in New York. This will advance New York’s deployment of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), as set out under New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision proceeding.
But Silver Spring was not the only member with a major win in utility AMI this week. We also saw Landis+Gyr announce a contract with Seattle City Light to install smart meters on its customers’ homes beginning in 2017. “We look forward to assisting Seattle City Light with their grid modernization strategy,” said Prasanna Venkatesan, Executive Vice President, Americas at Landis+Gyr, and an AEE board member. “Our experience in network management and grid analytics will help speed the transition to a more intelligent and responsive grid for improved customer engagement, reliability and operational efficiency.”
Finally, Sunverge Energy, a leader in intelligent storage and distributed energy resource management, announced that the company had closed a Series C round of funding for $36.5 million. One of the funders? Another member of AEE’s Business Council: Siemens. Supreme Court stay notwithstanding, advanced energy marches on!
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