Are you blue? Or seeing red?
The U.S. election is finally over, leaving some elated and others terrified. The last several months have been polarizing and contentious, and many feel that a Trump presidency is destined to bring uncertainty to the energy industry and endanger the goal many of us share of a more sustainable energy future.
Here are my thoughts on the key reasons why I believe that the distributed energy resources (DERs) market will continue to thrive, along with the march towards an advanced energy economy.
- As we’ve already realized since the polls closed Tuesday night, the sun has continued to rise, the world is still turning and work goes on. People we pass in airport corridors may be a little more shell-shocked and bleary-eyed, but as the dust settles and the hyperbole of the moment softens, our challenges remain the same -- solving some of the biggest energy challenges of this century. We all need to stay focused on this.
- While federal policy can set a tone for our industry, don’t lose sight of the fact that many advanced energy initiatives, including the growth of distributed energy resources, are driven by local and state regulations. State legislatures and city halls that are already leading the way with new visions of a distributed energy future will continue to drive innovation and change because it’s in their best interests – and the best interests of their citizenry – to do so.
- When it comes to distributed energy resources, we tend to focus on the “sexy” aspects of renewables like rooftop solar and on the ability of DERs to do things like smooth out the duck curve. While a Trump platform may seek to deemphasize carbon reduction initiatives like the CPP, don’t forget that DERs are also not just about greater integration of renewables. They are also a key component of improving energy efficiency and reducing energy costs, both of which are key drivers for energy customers, regardless of their red versus blue leanings. After all, keeping the lights on is a mandate that transcends party lines, and energy efficiency is hard-to-argue-with approach for solving many of the economic and energy challenges that we face. The fact of the matter is that customer demand will continue to drive distributed generation and the need for distributed energy resource management systems that can manage the resulting renewable intermittency.
- In spite of what I said in #3, above, I think that the renewable energy will continue on its meteoric growth path. Why? Wind and solar are becoming increasingly less expensive, and as this trend continues, utilities will keep closing coal-fired plants in favor of the lower-cost alternatives. Utility vanguards intent on adopting new business models aimed at continued growth will march forward to adopt cheaper renewable energy sources, smarter distributed energy resources and the technologies to manage them more effectively. It simply makes sound economic sense to do so because clean energy is the most popular and cost effective option for new generation. I also believe that regardless of what happens with CPP legislation – and similar government mandates – we may well meet carbon reduction targets without such legislation. Eighteen states are on track to hit the CPP's 2030 targets with no changes to their current plans because energy costs, NOT regulations are driving the switch to cleaner energy resources. In fact, the 27 states challenging the CPP emission level mandate are likely to hit them anyway because the market has already shifted when it comes to investment in newer technologies.
I’ll leave you with one final thought. It’s just possible that the change that is inevitable with the move to “make American great again” could even boost the market for distributed, clean energy. If the new administration focuses on increased utility industry competition as a means to help create jobs, grow the economy and increase consumer choice, this could be a good thing.
Ultimately, we’ll be driven by economic forces and customer demand, with the market dictating the energy sources we will reply upon in the future. Because of this, above all else, I fully anticipate the continued growth of clean, sustainable distributed energy resources on their own merits. That’s what we are counting on at Enbala, and our mission to do whatever it takes to achieve a more sustainable energy future will not waver. We hope you agree and will continue focusing with us on the pathway to an advanced energy economy.