The Dow Industrial Index is up almost 200 points this week as of Wednesday morning and the US renewable financing industry is being told that now is the time for exuberance as it gathered in New York City for Day Two of the Renewable Energy Finance Forum Wall Street.
It was hard to find a lot of bad news in the renewable sector yesterday, despite regulatory challenges, retractions in government spending across the board and continued lack of guidance on energy policy. Jobs have been created and costs have fallen throughout the recession, and financing is no longer dependent, as it was in 2008, on expectations of spiking oil prices.
Attendance remains strong on Day Two, where the subject matter is moving from fuel-specific analysis to the financial specifics that are the conference’s specialty and star attraction. REFF Wall Street is organized by the American Council on Renewable Energy and Euromoney.
Five takeaways from the morning’s keynote sessions:
1) It is possible to leverage a fossil fuel background into clean energy leadership. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter discussed the role of the Colorado School of Mines and the plethora of resource development engineers in his state as key for attracting companies like Vestas, ConocoPhilips renewables and Siemens.
2) Despite the focus on states’ roles, regional bodies remain key: Ritter is set to attend the Western Governors’ Association meeting in Idaho next week and expects transmission, siting and cost allocation issues to be central.
3) Political support for renewable energy can be rallied, even in the case of higher costs for consumers, as long as equality of cost-sharing is made central to the process. Ritter cited the passage of the aggressive 10-20% renewable energy generation requirement during his governorship, a move that included a 2% rate cap increase.
4) Cost compression in the wind and especially the solar industry have prompted widespread attention and investment interest from utilities, NRG Energy Executive VP and Regional President Northeast Drew Murphy told the audience.
5) The private sector is going to take an increasingly central role in driving not just financing of renewable energy projects, but in driving demand as government’s role continues to retreat in total industry terms, NRG’s Murphy said.