Expand Domestic Offshore Energy Access

PACE submitted public comments this week to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, supporting the proposed expansion of leasing regions. Energy leadership is needed now more than ever, for consumers at home – and to shore up America’s leadership in the world. 

Laura Marshall Schepis
Executive DirectorPartnership for Affordable Clean Energy
8409 Lee Highway, #2547
Merrifield VA 22116

March 8, 2018

Ms. Kelly Hammerle, National OCS Oil & Gas Leasing Program Manager
Dr. Jill Lewandowski, Chief, Division of Environmental Assessment
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
45600 Woodland Road
Sterling VA 20166

RE:   Draft Proposed 2019-2024 OCS Oil & Gas Leasing Program & Notice of Intent to Prepare a PEIS

Dear Ms. Hammerle and Dr. Lewandowski:

On behalf of the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy, I write in support of the decision to include offshore areas currently closed to access and to ask the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to maintain all of the proposed leasing regions as it further develops the 2019-2024 offshore leasing program.
With nearly all U.S. offshore areas currently under lock and key, the federal government has taken a significant step forward by considering expanded opportunities to develop American energy. It’s critically important to assess, and where feasible, access the nation’s offshore energy resources.

Lifting long-time artificial constraints on access to American energy can help consumers spend less on energy and more on other priorities. Energy independence improves our economy and provides much-needed revenues to federal, state, and local governments. Studies have found that unleashing the full power of our offshore resources could create more than 893,000 jobs, nearly $450 billion in spending, over $546 billion in Gross Domestic Product, and over $395 billion in increased government revenue.

In an uncertain world, strengthening and expanding the offshore leasing program will help protect our long-term national security. Promoting development of U.S. energy supplies can reduce our reliance on energy from other countries and improve our ability to provide allies with energy resources. Energy leadership is an integral part of global leadership.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.


Laura M. Schepis


Time to Build Energy Infrastructure

Several key congressional committees chose to focus on Infrastructure this week. This makes sense, as practical chances for moving a comprehensive infrastructure package are likely to run out of fuel around July 31, as lawmakers kick over into re-election gear.

President Trump set forth a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan a few weeks ago but it is having trouble getting traction, in part because it only called for $200 billion in federal spending. Stacked up against the visible needs to overhaul nearly every category of infrastructure, from roads to broadband to water systems, that seems too little.

It’s not appropriate to say too late because so many organizations and individuals are working hard to get dollars amassed and a smart national plan going. You can follow a well-organized effort at Infrastructure Week and on Twitter at #TimetoBuild. The 6th annual official “week” comes later in the spring.

On Tuesday, the House Energy & Commerce Committee held, as Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) noted, its 47th (!) hearing this Congress on infrastructure. The Committee has passed over two dozen pieces of infrastructure legislation, often on a bipartisan basis. It’s difficult for this key committee to add dollars to the infrastructure plan, but it can highlight worthwhile approaches, such as Smart Cities, and advocate for common-sense regulatory reforms.

Diverse witnesses from labor, environmental concerns and electric utilities each highlighted the need to build more transmission in every region. However, it can easily take up to a decade to get a line planned, permitted and built. One fix that makes sense – streamlining and better organizing how various federal agencies implement review responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act. IBEW helpfully referred to this as “one agency, one decision.”

Hydropower is “the largest renewable energy source for electricity generation in the United States.” But permitting delays and overlapping agency responsibilities needlessly hold up projects that can bring new hydropower to market or rebuild aging dams. Meanwhile, federal tax policy continues to favor splashier new renewable technologies. That doesn’t wash, according to the National Hydropower Association.

Smart Cities is a broad concept, but by breaking it down and shining a light on just one aspect, the mayor of Schenectady, New York opened some eyes to how cities and towns of all sizes can wring more value from infrastructure many take for granted, such as streetlights. Light poles can also host traffic and environmental sensors that feed information to government and utilities.

Can the dynamic members of this key Committee create enough momentum and excitement about the economy-boosting, job-creating powers of energy infrastructure to get the concepts into a major legislative package? For the country’s sake, we hope so. It is #TimetoBuild energy infrastructure everywhere.


Tax Extenders Will Make Plant Vogtle More Affordable

PACE is honored to re-publish a blog originally published by Georgia Tech’s Climate and Energy Policy Laboratory and authored by Dr. Marilyn A. Brown, who created and directs the CEPL. 

On Friday, January 9, 2018, Congress passed and President Trump signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. This budget-busting bill will add an estimated $2 trillion to the U.S. debt over the next decade. But nestled within it is some good news for advocates of low-carbon energy solutions.

Earlier this month, a collection of energy tax extenders and incentives was added to the Congressional budget deal. They will support a variety of “green” technologies that were left out of the Republican tax overhaul at the end of last year – a set of so-called “orphans.” These include 30% investment tax credits for fiber-optic solar, solar water heating, groundwater geothermal heating, geothermal heat pumps, qualified fuel cells, and small wind energy. Smaller, 10% investment tax credits were extended for particular types of microturbines, combined heat and power systems, and thermal energy projects. Support has also been extended for energy-efficient new buildings, and lots more.

But particularly key to Georgia, the Bipartisan Budget Act also extends production tax credits for new nuclear power, which will make Plant Vogtle more affordable. Once the plant is up and running, it will receive a $0.018/kWh production tax credit. Before the Act was passed, these credits applied to new nuclear units placed into service by December 31, 2020 – too soon for

Southern Co.’s new Vogtle units to qualify for them. With this Act, the deadline for completion of new nuclear units to qualify for the tax credits has been eliminated for up to 6,000 MW of new nuclear capacity. Thus, they can now be used by Plant Vogtle, the only nuclear energy project under construction in the U.S. today.

By eliminating the construction deadline, Southern Company will be able to qualify for an estimated $2 billion in incentives to expand its Vogtle plant. Oglethorpe Power Corporation, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, and the City of Dalton are partners in the Vogtle project and so will also benefit significantly from the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

Kudos and a tip-of-the-cap to Senator Johnny Isakson and the bipartisan Georgia Congressional delegation.