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Affects of Technology Enhancements

Affects of Technology Enhancements

Moderator: Jonathan White, Advisory Managing Director, Corporate Strategy, KPMG in the US.

Panelists: Sam Stockdale, Vice President, Global Real Estate, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Simar Grewal, Director, ConEdison; Tad Neeley, Chief Executive Officer, Banyan Infrastructure; Kristen Fornes, Director of Business Development, Socore Energy.

New technologies are encouraging growth and helping to attract capital to the renewables industry.
In the commercial and industrial (C&I) space, technology gives customers greater transparency into their power usage, including how they can use renewables to offset risk and guarantee lower energy prices, said Fornes, whose company develops commercial solar.

While big companies may not be focused on energy costs now while prices are low, electricity remains one of their largest, non-revenue generating expenses, she said. "When CFOs look at the bottom line, this is a big category."

The blockchain technology being introduced by Neeley's startup is designed to help smaller renewables projects attract capital by bringing the same kind of capital stack and risk assurances currently enjoyed by only the largest projects.

Different regulations state to state continue to hamper renewables expansion, including the incorporation of storage assets.
Stockdale described the regulatory environment in some states as "unfriendly," adding that some are so far behind "they are a utility dictatorship," he said. "Until you have consistency in regulation that really enables me to understand what my risk is it's going to create a tangled web to try to decipher and address the long-term risk." 

New Jersey is one state with a solid standard interconnection process outlined for storage for new C&I and utility scale projects, Fornes said. But overall, there's an opportunity for the industry to standardize the process and make it more efficient, removing a lot of the soft costs.

Technology can't do all the heavy lifting; policy and regulation continue to play a role in the industry's growth.
"Policy and regulatory, they go hand in hand, and they're key in encouraging investment and keeping it moving forward," Grewal said.

Some state renewable portfolio standards have been in place for a decade, and more progressive states are looking into offshore wind and hydropower to offset the gas infrastructure, he said. "In the absence of leadership at the federal level, some states have stepped up."

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