President Obama highlights energy priorities in State of the Union Address
On January 12, President of the United States Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union Address to Congress. As he has in several previous addresses, President Obama spent considerable time discussing his desire to address climate change and boost US output of renewable energy.
The President characterized the importance of addressing climate change not only in the context of a warming planet, but as an opportunity for economic growth. He stated that “even if the planet wasn’t at stake; even if 2014 wasn’t the warmest year on record — until 2015 turned out even hotter — why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?” Later in his speech he noted that the United States has “cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.”
As part of his commitment to renewable energy, President Obama reiterated the nation’s growing commitment to wind and solar energy and the resulting savings achieved by ratepayers. In a nod to the growth of distributed generation, he stated that the increase in customer choice has given “homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy.” In late 2015, Congress passed five-year extensions of both the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) — incentives friendly to the wind and solar industries, respectively.
Finally, the President underscored his support for continuing “the transition away from dirty energy.” He previewed that he is “going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”
With the PTC and ITC extension signed into law, a significant amount of the energy discussion in Congress in 2016 will revolve around ongoing clean air regulations being implemented by the US Environmental Protection Agency (e.g. the Clean Power Plan and the Mercury & Air Toxics Standard). Recent election years have mostly been void of major legislative accomplishments. And while the US House of Representatives passed a broad energy bill in December, it is generally considered unlikely that the US Senate will pass its own energy legislation in 2016.
ISO New England’s External Affairs team closely tracks federal energy policy initiatives and will continue to post updates on ISO Newswire.