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Material changes in renewable energy legislation are unlikely regardless of US election results


Bipartisan support for permitting reform

Investors remain committed to renewable energy

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  • Jared Anderson
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  • Giselle Rodriguez
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A potential change in US administration this year would not necessarily derail renewable energy development, and there can be bipartisan agreement on improving permitting for US energy project development along with other ways Democrats and Republicans can work together on energy policy, investors and a government official said June 5.

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Members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources have been discussing bipartisan permitting legislation, Bill Cassidy, US Senator for Louisiana, a Republican, said during the American Council on Renewable Energy's Finance Forum held in New York City.

"I do think even if we move beyond somebody from a coal state or an oil and gas state, that we're going to be able to achieve this because, as I said earlier, the environmental left knows they need permitting reform to build power lines and Republicans realize it is needed for all forms of energy," Cassidy said.

The potential for compromise on that issue exists. The Biden administration has put some things forward, but there has been nothing to address judicial review, which has been used to hold up energy projects in the courts almost indefinitely, Cassidy explained.

"There is a grand comprise that can be achieved between right and left and not just between somebody from West Virginia on the left but people who are further out more environmentally skeptical of fossil [fuels]," he added.

Asked if he supports power transmission expansion, Cassidy said yes, but added that it must be done well.

There are a lot of landowners that are "getting nervous" that interregional plans are going to take away their property rights, he said, adding that Democrats want power lines and Republicans want pipelines and "we both want both."

"Permitting reform writ large is an absolute essential including judicial review," which Cassidy said the Biden administration has not been interested in. The fact that one can tie something up in court forever as a strategy by which to prevent it from being obtained is something that will thwart investment, he said.

Election impacts on renewable energy investment

A group of energy investors mostly held the view that a change in control of the White House in this year's election would not completely stifle renewable energy investment opportunities but could slow it in some areas.

"There are asset deployment opportunities that would stop or slow," Dan Cary, managing director at the Macquarie Green Investment Group, said.

However, there is fundamental demand and there are fundamental economic solutions that are being developed and could be delayed. "We have a mandate and that is something we intend to fulfill," he said.

Additionally, disruption creates opportunity for really strong fundamental projects, developers and companies, Cary said.

Michael Yurkerwich, managing director at CRC-IB, agreed, saying a lot needs to happen beyond just the change in president that would warrant further consideration of various parts of legislation, "but our view is there is bipartisan support for a lot of things that were included in the Inflation Reduction Act, so we don't anticipate material changes to the existing legislation as it currently stands."

If the executive were to flip, there might be a slowdown in offshore wind power permitting but there will always be opportunities, David Siegel, principal at Lotus Infrastructure Partners, said.

Mona Dajani, partner and the global co-chair of the energy, infrastructure and hydrogen teams and co-chair of the Baker Botts Energy Sector at law firm Baker Botts, said that is consistent with what her company has been telling clients because material changes would need both houses of Congress to be Republican, which is unlikely, and there are a lot of really good projects in states that are Republican and Democrat led.