The Executive Roundtable, made up of renewable energy industry leaders, met in order to discuss the future of the renewable energy industry. Due to the recent recession and talk on Capitol Hill to reduce or cut incentives, the renewable energy industry faces a defining moment that could lead it in different directions. However, the industry remains one of the U.S. economy's most consistent job creators and experiences much support among politicians and the public.
Chief Editor David Wagman convened this year's Executive Roundtable, which included Barry Worthington, executive director of the U.S. Energy Association; Mark Ahlstrom, CEO of WindLogics; Jayesh Goyal, vice president of sales for Areva Solar; Pat Dinkel, vice president, Power Marketing, Resource Planning and Acquisition at Arizona Public Service; and Allen Marks, partner in the Global Project Finance Department of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP.
Power Engineering: While industry leaders continue to advocate for a national energy policy, the new Congress does not look in a mood to take on such a large legislative item. What's the best that the renewable energy industry can hope from the new Congress?
Jayesh Goyal: I do think there are two rays of hope here. One is that we aren't completely dependent at the federal level for legislation. There's been a lot of progressive legislation at the states themselves, especially in the western states, that I think will continue to promote renewable energy.
The other thing is although there is this environment of let's cut spending there's also a strong urge to get jobs to help the economic recovery. And so there still may be some legislation that helps in the renewable energy space. Practically speaking, the best we can probably hope for is an extension of the Treasury grant program.
PE: Let's discuss some reforms that might be possible or necessary at the state level given the current economic and political conditions.
Barry Worthington: The most important thing on the state level is stressing the local jobs that are created. States are going to come under their own budget pressures. New Jersey is a good case in point where the new governor is slashing every dollar he can find. There's talk about rolling back the renewable portfolio standards and removing New Jersey from RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) just as an example. You also see a growing clamor- particularly, I would say in the mid-Atlantic and New England regulators- rallying against transmission to bring Midwest resources to the east coast.
PE: What renewable energy project made you take notice during 2010 and why?
Mark Ahlstrom: The one project that really made me realize that solar was coming on much more quickly was the DeSoto PV project in Florida that Florida Power & Light built. It's a 25 MW AC project. To see that actually getting in the ground and then seeing how it can be integrated and starting to get a lot of good science and data understanding how solar variability and smoothing with larger project sizes and geographic dispersions really made me realize that there's a lot of synergy between what we've learned about wind integration and what we'll be able to do with solar integration.
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