Copper-Heavy Clean Energy Projects Receive State, Corporate Support
17 Feb 2017
By Zolaikha Strong
Director of Sustainable Energy for CDA
President Trump’s administration promises to drastically alter the nation’s energy strategy, particularly regarding renewable energy initiatives that prominently employ copper. This “green” metal increases the efficiency and reliability of energy systems. It is a key component in both traditional energy infrastructure and in clean energy projects such as wind, solar, and electric vehicles. For this reason, CDA’s Sustainable Energy Public Affairs team works to elevate state and federal renewable energy initiatives. While the Obama administration largely supported these projects as a response to climate change, Trump’s administration will be more interested in renewable energy’s potential to grow jobs and increase American exports. Conversely, U.S. states and companies are pledging to pick up the mantel of environmental conservation and climate science.
In late January, Donald Trump’s administration issued a seven paragraph “America First Energy Plan.” This plan doesn’t mention clean energy sources such as wind or solar, but instead emphasizes the administration’s shale oil and gas priorities. However, energy projects to expand transmission, wind, and energy storage are included in the Trump administration’s list of its top 50 infrastructure priorities. (Utility Dive)
The argument that clean energy is a job creator is more and more difficult to ignore and, with all luck, the president is noticing. Just in January, a report from RE100 explains that corporations are increasingly transitioning to clean energy, a continuously hastening trend that is predicted to be a major driver in the global transition to clean energy. (RE100; Solar Industry Magazine) This month also saw the release of a study from the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) which says that states that invest in renewable energy initiatives are the most likely to attract businesses and create jobs in their communities. (Solar Industry Magazine; Solar Power World)
Despite any change in federal enthusiasm for the subject, many states such as California are continuing to develop clean energy initiatives and programs for these and other reasons. Also in January, California’s three largest utilities requested permission from regulators to spend more than $1 billion on various electric vehicle charging projects aimed at medium and heavy duty vehicles. (ClimateWire; GreenTechMedia; Utility Dive) Meanwhile, a bill proposed in the state legislature would require 15 percent of new residential and commercial buildings under 10 stories to have solar energy equipment, such as solar panels or solar heated water. (Renewable Energy World; Utility Dive; GreenTechMedia) Unfortunately, the potential to advance clean energy on a state level may be jeopardized as reports surface that federal action could hamper renewable energy efforts, especially regarding electric vehicles in states such as California. State rules, such as emissions caps, are based on permission from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA’s Trump-nominated administrator has previously sued the agency to assert states should have autonomy over their own environmental rules, however, the administration has pledged overall to massively diminish regulations and rules that impact businesses and thus, automakers anticipate a major reduction in emissions rules. (ClimateWire; NPR)
January was a month of change and transition, particularly for sustainable energy. While there are many issues still up in the air, CDA’s Sustainable Energy Public Affairs team is working closely with legislators, regulators, and allies on Capitol Hill to keep copper’s interests top of mind.