Midsize Company of the Year Platinum winner Clearway Energy Group focuses on wind, utility-scale solar, and community solar. The company participates in every stage of the project lifecycle – origination, development, construction, project finance and commercial operations ─and has assets in 25 states and a large project development pipeline.
The organization prides itself for its dedicated, razor-sharp team that brings that same enthusiasm to work every day. Ray Long, Senior Vice President of External Affairs comments, “One of the best things about Clearway is its people. We’ve managed to assemble a growing team of individuals who – regardless of where they sit in the organization – bring passion and energy to their work. We’re proud that our people and our company play a role in our county’s clean energy story. Our job is to help tell that story.”
There are several issues at the local, state, and federal levels keeping Clearway’s policy team busy. Just one aspect of that work is shaping how the market evolves to accommodate the increasing penetration of utility-scale and distributed clean energy. Market evolution takes many forms, including wholesale market changes governed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and implemented by Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs), the grid operators, as well as state-regulated distribution systems, which are administered by utilities. Focusing on both cross-jurisdictional and local issues creates value by lowering costs, improving reliability, and enhancing resiliency in the era of climate-related weather events.
While there is an ever-present litany of issues and challenges, such as tariffs on solar and wind components, shrinking tax credits, land-use limitations, and permitting and interconnection hurdles, these challenges continue to be overcome by strong demand for renewables. That support was on full display this year at a public hearing for a new wind farm, where one of the many local proponents of the project attended wearing a “yes in my back yard” (YIMBY) shirt.
Clearway Energy Group is a member of all three of the major clean energy trade associations: AWEA, ESA, and SEIA. And while tax credits for renewables has been the top priority for many years, trade and tariffs have emerged as the second priority at the national level.
Making Progress, Though There’s Still Work to be Done
Hawaii was the first state to set a 100% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Now nine states have either an executive order or legislative mandates to get to 100% clean energy. But getting to 60% renewable energy penetration in the United States by 2030 will require a significant uptick in deployment of solar, wind, and storage, as well as efforts to modernize the electric grid’s aging infrastructure. It will also require removing barriers that encumber clean energy development.
“While we celebrate states and cities setting their sights on 100 percent clean energy, we need to really focus on how we get it done,” says Long. “For us, that means both steel in the ground and the enabling the best regulatory and legislative frameworks to create a level playing field and make it happen. That also means creating a trade environment where American companies aren’t forced to pay more for building or buying clean energy.”
Clearway is increasingly focused on pairing storage with solar to address some of the grid challenges with renewable’s intermittency. For future projects and those in development in both California and Hawaii, just about all the company’s solar projects will include storage, and it owns community solar+ storage projects nearing completion in Massachusetts. “There’s an economic component that all of our customers want, but also a consistent need going forward,” says Long. “Storage is an elegant and increasingly economic solution to the intermittency of renewables.”
Clearway sees public policy as having a major impact on the growth of renewables. Says Long, “There’s a balance that needs to be struck between business objectives, environment regulations, and the communities that those regulations are designed to help and protect. We are here to strike that balance in a way that delivers a reliable, resilient, and cost-effective clean energy future.”