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The business voice is changing the clean energy debate

Posted by Eleanor Fort at Jan 23, 2013 03:00 AM |
When businesses went to Washington to lobby on the wind production tax credit last year, it got the attention of lawmakers.
by Eleanor Fort, Associate, Policy Program Ceres Posted on Jan 23, 2013

When businesses went to Washington to lobby on the wind production tax credit last year, it got the attention of lawmakers. As major purchasers of renewable energy, companies want to see policy incentives for clean energy technologies, and the business voice added a new credence that got people in Washington to take notice.

InsideClimate News recently wrote the story on how the business voice advocating for clean energy is changing the debate in Washington. “The corporate lobbying effort has been a boon for the renewable energy industry. Having big business backing the wind tax credit has brought more credence—and heft—to the fight by taking it out of the realm of non-profits and wind companies.” Businesses are realizing that they not only have a stake in the clean energy debate, but they have a powerful voice.

Dozens of seemingly unrelated corporations, including Sprint, Starbucks, Levi Strauss and New Belgium Brewing, lobbied to save the wind tax credit. It's hard to gauge how much effect they had on lawmakers' last-minute decision to give the tax credit a one-year reprieve by putting it in the fiscal cliff tax package. But their involvement shows that the business community has identified a need for renewables and could become an important lobbying force in promoting clean energy.

"This signals a change in the coalition structure," said Clyde Wilcox, a professor in the government department at Georgetown University. "In the past, it would be green energy companies or environmental groups that have either a business interest or a public interest in these issues. But people look up when a new series of players lines up."

Some companies, like Sprint, lobbied for the wind tax credit on their own. Others joined Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), which was founded in 2008 by the green investment group Ceres to push for energy legislation. Its 23 members include clothing retailers (Gap and Eileen Fisher), tech companies (eBay and CA Technologies) and the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team.

As more large corporations set internal goals to reduce their carbon footprints, they have a vested interest in keeping renewable energies cheap and available. Some are also looking to the future and are concerned that climate change could affect their bottom lines.

Read the full article here.