The Biden Administration’s Legislative Approach to Clean Energy

March 11, 2021

By: Esther Heymans

The new administration has created a new buzz of media all proclaiming a new focus on climate change in the White House. Climate policies have been at the forefront of the Biden administration, with President Biden quickly signing executive orders directly addressing the climate crisis. The new administration’s focus on climate change isn’t new, however.

Energy industries have never lost focus on climate policies. Emily Fisher, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Clean Energy at Edison Electric Institute sat down with “The Current” to discuss how energy companies have handled their policy priorities. “Our policy priorities haven’t changed but our opportunities to make progress on those policy priorities probably has,” Fisher remarked. Clean energy has always been on the mind of the energy sector. With the change in administration, regulators and legislators are becoming more aligned with that same vision.

This shared mind allows innovation. Natural gas and clean energy are two areas that have received renewed collaboration between energy companies and legislators. The importance of clean gas and sustainable energy has been well known to energy companies, and now collaboration allows for industry priorities to become policy priorities. Sarah Venuto, Vice President of Public Policy at Duke Energy explained those shared priorities a little further. “We are trying to build Duke’s policies for decades not presidential terms or congressional sessions.” Venuto agreed that there is “meaningful alignment” between Biden’s and Duke Energy’s goals. “We want to meaningfully address climate change and reduce our emissions, but we also want to serve our customers in a reliable and affordable way, and I think those are shared goals,” Venuto explained.

From a purely legislative standpoint, strides toward progress have been significant. Fisher discussed how the Biden administration has shown that they are “going to take a very concerted, whole government approach to addressing climate change.” This whole government approach includes collaboration with the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy and the EPA. Additionally, the Biden administration is looking into individual programs such as worker relocation. They are also investing in scientific advancements in the clean energy field. All these small actions are pieces of a larger puzzle that is successful climate policy.

With such a progressive climate position, concerns have arisen about the fiscal feasibility of these plans. Investing in a cleaner future is, after all, an investment and investments require commitment. As a country that hasn’t yet fully transitioned to clean energy, the Biden administration must promote a position of balance to support a country in transition.

One of the biggest issues that Fisher predicts to the Biden administration’s climate policies is trade. Currently America relies on imports for our clean energy industry. Fisher predicts that the administration will begin to feel the pressure to increase domestic development of clean energy technologies.

Fisher remains optimistic about the policy opportunities available during the Biden presidency. “This is a four-year period, and certain policies could be put in place that will help us accelerate the clean energy transition in that timeframe.” While there are many challenges that face the Biden Administration’s climate policies, the ability to partner with the existing goals of energy companies creates a strong foundation for the next four years of hard work.

Listen to episode 23 of “The Current” for a deeper dive into the policy priorities of the Biden administration.

Episode 23: This week, Brad discusses the electric industry’s priorities with the new Congress and the Biden administration, particularly as they relate to clean energy. Joining Brad is Emily Fisher, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Clean Energy at EEI, who will discuss the issues facing the larger industry. Sarah Venuto, Vice President of Public Policy at Duke Energy, will provide perspective on how Duke is looking at these issues and how her company is setting long-term plans for clean energy and grid investments – despite the constantly shifting policy priorities in Washington.