While many people are wondering, what impact the Trump administration will have on renewable energy, Lisa Jacobson, president, Business Council on Sustainable Energy (BCSE), Washington, isn’t so sure much will change.
During the North American Waste-to-Energy (NAWTEC) Conference, April 23-26 at the Raddison Blu in Minneapolis, hosted by the Energy Recovery Council and the Solid Waste Association of North America she told attendees those in the driver’s seat don’t have a deep knowledge of the energy industry including technologies like waste-to-energy. She said the Trump administration had not been doing that level of planning.
“I was asked to do the impossible,” she said. “I cannot explain what is going on in Washington.”
If there is a theme she said, it is that there are challenges and opportunities in everything.
“How can we manage challenges and seize the opportunities?” Jacobson asked. “Things are unpredictable, there is a lot of change. The bottom line is this was an unprecedented federal election.”
She expects that by fall, the administration will be more resolved, but as of right now, she said, there “aren’t enough people able to manage the day to day.”
BCSE has been part of an effort for the last five years to track changes in power and transportation. Jacobson said, WTE is among the technologies being tracked.
She said BCSE wants to be resource for policymakers and the organization has developed “The Sustainable Energy in America Factbook.” It contains what she described as the 200 best facts and figures related to energy sector, from pricing, to hosting to tech.
A change has been taking place over the last five years with energy production and consumption, Jacobson said, adding the BCSE was trying to understand whether the change had staying power and what it meant for consumers and businesses.
She said the U.S. has experienced a significant increase in “energy productivity” and called it a big change for an industry that hasn’t changed in 50 to 60 years. The industry is at 20-year lows with greenhouse gas emissions and this is attributable to the increase in renewables and natural gas.
That infrastructure that has been invested in and built will continue being used for a long time, according to Jacobson. As well, coal-fired boilers continue to be retired.
As well prices for power are low. Retail power has seen a slight decline, said Jacobson, while wholesale power is seeing a “very deep decline,” she said.
Household energy is the lowest it has been on record, since it has been tracked since the 1950s. Households are paying less than 4 percent on all energy costs, Jacobson said.
She concluded by talking about tax policy, saying that stability was important and that “We don’t need top-down mandates, we just need a level playing field.”
“Washington is in a period of transition and unpredictability,” said Jacobson. “I think it will settle out once more people in place in senior policy positions.”
NAWTEC was April 23-26, 2017, in Minneapolis.