U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman visits Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance

Stanford Law School and the Graduate School of Business recently announced the establishment of the the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, an interdisciplinary center to study and advance the development and deployment of clean energy technologies through innovative policy and finance. We are preparing the official launch of the center and will announce that event soon. We are beginning to develop programs and staff up for the coming year. We are also reaching out to thought leaders across the nation to assess the needs and opportunities for in-depth work at the intersection between energy policy and finance.

U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman visits Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance
Dan Reicher, Professor of the Practice of Law & Executive Director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance. (Photo by Norbert von der Groeben.)

To that end, Dan Reicher, the center’s new director, and other members of the Stanford Law School faculty had the opportunity today to meet with U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a leading energy policymaker in the Senate.

The meeting focused on the critical step that follows government and venture capital investment in promising energy technologies, namely successfully deploying these technologies at commercial scale in clean energy projects. In the meeting, participants explored the problems faced in developing and financing U.S. clean energy projects, providing specific information and examples. The attendees discussed policy, financial and management solutions to these problems. And attendees heard from Senator Bingaman and Committee staff regarding help they could use in analyzing, developing, and advancing various policy options.

Meeting participants discussed several federal legislative proposals that could accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies. One, championed by Senator Bingaman, would create the Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA), a quasi-public/private entity which would provide a variety of financing mechanisms, including loans, loan guarantees and other tools to help advance investment in clean energy projects, especially those that have yet to be deployed at full commercial scale.  CEDA, as proposed in the Senate, could take a “profits interest” in projects it finances thereby helping to create a self-sustaining financing entity.

Attendees also discussed a pending proposal in Washington DC to adopt a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES).  Senator Bingaman’s committee last year adopted an RES that would require 15% of U.S. electricity to come from renewable energy sources and energy efficiency improvements by 2021, but the RES did not become law.  Lately, interest has been developing around a broader national Clean Energy Standard (CES) that would include nuclear power, advanced coal and other energy technologies in addition to renewables and efficiency.

In discussing these and other federal policy mechanisms–and how they might help advance the development and financing of U.S. clean energy projects–participants considered a number of complicating factors including the federal budget deficit and the pressure it will put on federal clean energy programs and the rise of China as a center of clean energy technology manufacturing and deployment and its increasing strength in R&D and investment.

Senator Bingaman concluded the meeting stressing the need for help from a broad array of experts on both legislative and non-legislative approaches to our national energy challenges and opportunities.

Participants in the meeting with Senator Bingaman included:

· Bill Green, MacQuarie Capital

· Sheldon Kimber, Recurrent Energy

· Rick Needham, Google Inc.

· Tim Newell, US Renewables Group

· Don O’Shei, AltaRock Energy

· Dan Reicher, Stanford University

· Matt Rogers, McKinsey and Company

· Deborah Sivas, Stanford University

· Michael Wara, Stanford University

· Kassia Yanosek, Tana Energy Capital

· Bob Simon, Staff Director, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

·Mike Carr, Staff Member, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

·Kevin Rennert, Staff Member, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee