Energy Policy

Constellation’s 2016 Executive Energy Forum

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Highlights from Constellation’s 2016 Executive Energy Forum

Earlier this month, Constellation hosted its Executive Energy Forum (EEF) in Washington, D.C., where customers and channel partners gathered to network and hear from political experts, former politicians, state and national energy policy leaders and Exelon’s Federal Affairs division. The purpose of EEF was to give insight into the recent results of this year’s election. We also began to assess what the new Trump administration might mean to the energy industry, as well as policy.

Below are some of the topics that were covered.

The New Political Environment 

Former Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles started off the event by talking about how the U.S. Senate has changed since he left in 2003. He also discussed how Republicans restoring the filibuster will be interesting to watch.

President-elect Trump is likely to reverse many of President Obama’s executive orders. Many promises of repealing the Affordable Care Act and rewriting the tax code were easy to make on the campaign trail, but will prove to be an extensive process the first year.  

The New Administration  

Catherine Ransom from the Glover Park Group, a bipartisan communications group, along with David Gilbert, Vice President of Federal Government Affairs for Constellation, outlined what we might expect in the first 100 days. President-elect Trump was not specific on the campaign trail and he had a much smaller transition team than Hillary Clinton, so a lot remains unknown. What will be his top priorities and who he brings into his administration are key questions that will be sorted out in the next 60 days.

Energy will most likely be an easier task than healthcare, for example. We will likely see quick actions on reversing executive orders. This is expected to be followed by whether President-elect Trump wants to repeal or not enforce the Clean Power Plan (CPP), withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Paris Climate Accords and the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) enforcement.  

Industry Trends on Carbon Regulations

A panel looked at the CPP and New York’s Clean Energy Standard (CES) from a Federal, regional and state level. Carbon emissions are down 11 percent since 2011. This is mostly due to low gas prices that allow natural gas-fired generation to displace coal-fired generation in the power stack. If the new Trump administration tries to bolster the coal industry by relaxing EPA regulations, there is still the prospect of third party litigation of parties not meeting the mandates of the EPA as they are outlined now.

At a regional level, will western states, such as California, continue to pursue their own carbon reduction and initiatives? In the Northeast (DC, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and New England states), does the new Trump administration spur more activity from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)?

Post-Election Analysis

The afternoon featured two well-known political pundits; Charlie Cook, Editor and Publisher of The Cook Political Report and Stu Rothenberg, Founding Editor and Publisher of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report. They gave their insight on the accuracy of polling and what the post-election numbers are saying. A couple of their key takeaways were:  

  • Fewer people answer the phone to talk to a pollster today versus 15-20 years ago. No replacement has proven any more accurate though.
  • Hillary Clinton got her supporters to the polls in major urban centers. Donald Trump significantly increased turnout in rural areas.

In summary, over the next 60 days, we will see what the Trump administration will make priority in the first 100 days in office. As mentioned by previous speakers, it seems that President-elect Trump could make reversing many of President Obama’s health care and tax reforms top priorities.

In looking to fulfill his promise to the coal industry, a weakening of the CPP and a change in tact at EPA could be in the cards. However, low natural gas prices have had more of an impact on the coal industry than regulations have, and that is not likely to change.  

If you’re interested in learning more about what was covered during this year’s EEF, watch our highlights video here.

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