In this Capitol Report:
- Study Finds Utility-Scale Solar Power is Cheaper and Has Greater Environmental Benefits than Residential-Scale Solar Panels
- "All Aboard!"
- Thank you to CACI Bronze Partner, Aurora Organic Dairy for hosting the CACI EXECs Advocacy Class!
- CACI Welcomes Newest Members
- U.S. Chamber Expert Discusses NLRB Labor Initiatives with CACI’s Federal Policy Council
- Congressional Update:
- **Breaking News**
- “How To Lobby Your Member of Congress”
This Capitol Report is brought to you by:
State Policy News
Study Finds Utility-Scale Solar Power is Cheaper and Has Greater Environmental Benefits than Residential-Scale Solar Panels
Earlier this month, economists at the global consulting firm The Brattle Group released a study finding that utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the U.S. are significantly more cost effective than residential-scale (rooftop) PV systems. The study also finds that utility-scale PV systems are more effective at achieving the economic and policy goals related to access, cost, equity, and the environmental benefits of PV solar than their residential-scale counterparts. Click here to download the study and to view an infographic of the study’s findings.
Titled, “Comparative Generation Costs of Utility-Scale and Residential-Scale PV in Xcel Energy Colorado’s Service Area,” the study is the first to focus on a “solar to solar” comparison of residential and utility-scale PV solar deployed on a utility system.
The report examines the comparative customer-paid costs of generating power from equal amounts of utility- and residential-scale solar PV panes in the Xcel Energy Colorado system. Looking at the Xcel Energy Colorado system in 2019 the report compared the customer supply costs of adding PV panels either in the form of 60,000 distributed 5-kW residential scale systems owned or leased by retail customers; or utility-scale solar power plants that sell their entire output to Xcel Energy Colorado under long-term purchase power agreements.
The study’s key findings include:
- The generation cost of energy from 300 MW of utility-scale PV solar is roughly one-half the cost per kWh of the output from an equivalent 300 MW of 5kW residential-scale systems when deployed on the Xcel Energy Colorado system, and utility-scale solar remains more cost effective in all scenarios considered in the study;
- In that same setting, 300 MW of PV solar deployed in a utility-scale configuration also avoids approximately 50% more carbon emissions than an equivalent amount of residential-scale PV solar;
- Projected 2019 utility-scale PV power costs in Xcel Energy Colorado’s service territory will range from $66/MWh to $117/MWh (6.6¢/kWh to 11.7¢/kWh) across all scenarios, while projected power costs for a typical, customer-owned PV system will range from $123/MWh to $193/MWh (12.3¢/kWh to 19.3¢/kWh);
- The generation cost difference between the utility- and residential-scale systems owned by the customer ranges from 6.7¢/kWh to 9.2¢/kWh solar across the scenarios
- *National average retail all-in residential electric rates in 2014 were 12.5¢/kWh.
The large gap in per-MWh costs between utility- and residential-scale systems results principally from (a) lower total plant costs per installed kilowatt for larger facilities, and (b) greater electric output from the same PV capacity due to optimized panel placement, tracking and other economies of scale and efficiencies associated with utility-scale solar PV installations.
Studies such as this provide helpful information to the public and policymakers as states continue efforts to understand how to plan for and adapt to changes in solar power technology, its price competitiveness, and other emerging technologies that could improve the efficiency of our electricity utility sector and yield cost savings and environmental benefits.
On July 16th, several CACI staff members traveled as guests of CACI Bronze Partner Union Pacific Railroad aboard its historic, 1955-era E-9 Streamliner from Cheyenne to Commerce City as part of the festivities surrounding the beginning of Cheyenne Frontier Days.
The CACI crew, along with Al Short, Executive Director of CACI-member Lincoln College of Technology, had an amazing time. Please click here for pictures.
Thank you to CACI Bronze Partner, Aurora Organic Dairy for hosting the CACI EXECs Advocacy Class!
Agriculture is the second biggest sector of the Colorado’s economy. On Thursday, July 16th, the CACI EXECs Advocacy Class toured CACI-member Aurora Organic Dairy’s Processing Plant in Platteville. The class learned about issues facing Colorado’s agriculture industry, specifically the ones that confront organic dairies. Special guest Brent Boydston, Vice President of Public Policy for the Colorado Farm Bureau, joined the class and provided additional insight into Colorado’s agribusiness industry. Please click here for pictures.
State Policy News
CACI Welcomes Newest Members
CACI would like to welcome its newest members.
Our newest Gold Partner is Whiting Oil & Gas.
Our newest Silver Partners are:
Our newest Bronze Partners are:
Our newest Partners are:
Our newest Advocate members are: Campbell Litigation, P.C., Carver Schwarz McNab Kamper & Forbes, LLC, Faustson, IMAGINiT Technologies, Lewis Roca Rothgerber and Public Safety Ventures LLC.
Our newest Members are: Boulder Chamber of Commerce, Castle Law Group, LLC, Clear Creek Insurance and Financial Services, Colorado Association of Home Builders, Colorado Optometric Association, Colorado Restaurant Association, Community Reach Center, Intelagard, Rees Consulting & Public Affairs, West Chamber Serving Jefferson County and SOS Realty.
Federal Policy News
U.S. Chamber Expert Discusses NLRB Labor Initiatives with CACI’s Federal Policy Council
On Wednesday, Glenn Spencer, a top labor-law expert from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, addressed new and proposed labor-regulation changes that concern the nation’s business community.
Glenn, Executive Director of the U.S. Chamber’s Workforce Freedom Initiative who worked at the U.S. Department of Labor under the Bush Administration, discussed the following:
Ambush Elections: Implemented this April by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
- Effectively dropped average time for union organizing elections from 38 days to as few as ten days – leaving businesses with little time to counter information employees have been given by a union.
- Businesses are required to provide employee contact information to union organizers within two days of filing for an election. This information includes: name, home address, phone number, shift hours, shift location and email address. This rule also now allows an employer’s email system to be used for organizing purposes.
- Unintended consequence of the new rule: Unions are filing for election, gathering all employee information, then withdrawing election petitions. Doing so only prevents unions from running a true organizing election for six months; in the meantime, unions use employee information to lobby workers–without businesses being notified.
- New standards would change decades of labor-employment definition precedents, opening up employers to ultimately be responsible for workplaces over which they have no control.
- Would virtually eliminate incentive to start or expand franchises, as either court case is a route for unions to make one election at a single franchise apply to all or where a labor agreement with a corporation would now apply to all franchisees, despite the franchisees being independent businesses.
- Would take away contractor model, brand names may assert more control over local franchises (i.e. taking away employer freedoms to hire, fire and pay employees as needed/local market demands) and eliminates ability for franchises to qualify for Small Business Administration (SBA) funding.
Overtime Standards: Following an Executive Order from President Obama in 2014, the U.S. Labor Department on June 30th proposed new overtime income threshold standards on June 30:
- The “overtime threshold” would go from $23,660 in annual wages to $50,440 as the cut-off to qualify for mandatory overtime after 40 hours/week.
- This threshold would be tied to inflation for the first time in history, thus changing annually.
- Virtually eliminates exempt employees and the “duties” test.
- At the same time, employers will now be faced with a challenge: How to treat employees who were previously salaried, had the benefits that accompany being salaried (retirement plans, flexible work schedules, laptops and work-from-home scenarios) but are now automatically hourly? Does an employer determine if an email sent after hours qualifies as overtime or does it eliminate all after-hours or at-home work?
…Seven days until August recess for the House, 13 days for the Senate
Highway Trust Fund: Has just eight days until spending authority expires on July 31st. Tuesday’s Senate cloture vote failed 41-56 (60 votes were needed to proceed to the bill) as members received bill language only hours before the vote, with only three years of “pay fors” on a six-year authorization. Minority Leader Barbara Boxer (D-CA) agreed to moving the bill forward in the House now that Senate leadership has announced a tentative deal.
Politics are also threatening to weigh down the must-pass transportation legislation though, as Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) are threatening filibusters or procedural drags if they do not get anti-abortion language and ACA repeal amendments added to the bill, in addition to their vehement opposition to the Ex-Im Bank being added as an amendment.
To pay for the bill, the Senate’s looking at:
- Raising federal gas tax (currently 18.4 cents, not raised since 1993)
- Changes for Federal employee retirement benefits
- Reduction of FED Reserve dividend payments (from 6% to 1.5%)s.
- Increased airline ticket fee through 2020); Senate likely to add a five-year U.S. Export-Import Bank re-authorization as an amendment after Senate cleared procedural vote supporting the Bank
- A five-month extension was passed by House, but Senate not considering shorter authorization yet. This only leaves mere days for the House to take up anything the Senate passes before the Highway Trust Fund expires and/or August recess arrives.
Ex-Im Bank – Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is championing the Ex-Im effort and still plans to offer the Bank’s six-year re-authorization as an amendment to the must-pass Highway Bill. A procedural test vote last week garnered 65 supportive votes for Ex-Im.
Education Reform—“Every Child Achieves Act” passed the Senate last week (81-17), with the House version barely passing under threat of Presidential veto. Both bills must now be “conferenced” to reach a compromise both chambers of Congress and the President can support.
- Reduces Federal role in state education
- Changes “No Child Left Behind” standard of every child eventually reading at grade level, to a more measured approach
- Focuses on STEM education and identifying at-risk or missing populations from STEM career/education fields
TSCA Reform (S. 697) – Passed House sub-committee, committee & House floor unanimously earlier this summer; Just needs taken up by Senate after Senate EPW approved (15-5) last week. Could potentially be approved by a unanimous consent agreement at the end of the month.
GMO Voluntary Labeling (H.R. 1599) – House Workforce Committee held a hearing on Tuesday moving the bill forward. H.R. 1599 passed committee by voice vote after skipping the Agriculture Committee. It was debated on the House floor today, passing 275-180. The Senate will not take up H.R. 1599 until after Labor Day.
“How To Lobby Your Member of Congress”
1.) Have your “Elevator Pitch” ready — Have your 2-3 minute elevator pitch ready and I’m quite serious when I say, “Practice it out loud!” Having this pitch ready means you avoid awkward intros, family updates, town gossip, etc. at the start of your meeting. Members and staff are used to skipping the intro conversations & these conversations can be filled in at the end –
a. Members of Congress typically operate on 15-minute meetings in DC and 30-minute meetings in Colorado. Being succinct allows time for the Congressmen to engage, absorb your issue, ask questions and truly gain something from your meeting.
b. If you waste your first ten minutes on chit chat, you may not really get your story across in the final five (or less) …
2.) Be on time & that means EARLY – Whether in DC or Denver, time is precious for businesses and your delegation. Try to arrive 10 minutes before your meeting is scheduled – this will make you more prepared and may provide the opportunity to connect with staffers ahead of time.
a. If in DC, it takes at least 30 minutes to move a small group from one side of the Hill to the other on foot, 15 minutes between Senate buildings and 20 minutes between House buildings.
b. Any time May – Oct, give yourself an extra 10 minutes to cool down once you’re in the right building. Trust me on this one …
c. From Feb – May, plan on security taking as long as 20 minutes; seemingly every teen school group in the country is in town, and they are all inexplicably unable to walk through metal detectors without their cell phones …
d. Being early is especially important because:
i. You don’t want to be so uncomfortable and sweaty (or late) that you miss the opportunity to have a good meeting and celebrate what you do as a business
ii. While it is true that Members of Congress may run late due to votes, etc. , they are helping run our country – and you don’t want to be the reason they’re late to their next appointment.
iii. If you’re going to be late – call before you actually ARE late. You may not get to meet with the Congressmen if late, but staffers are likely still be able to sit down with you.
iv. Use an early arrival to connect with your Congressional staffers, ask where they’re from, get their story or better yet, practice your elevator pitch on them
3.) Know your audience:
a. Prioritize your top two to three issues …
b. Has the Sen./Rep. been supportive before? Is yours an issue they know well? Are you meeting with state staff or DC policy staff?
c. Leah Curtsinger, Federal Affairs Representative for CACI, can assist companies with all of the above questions, so you can be more confident in delivering the right message to the right people
4.) Know what you want from the meeting
a. Passion is a good thing, but emotions are not – the best way to lobby an issue an office is opposed to (or not aware of), is to educate them…
i. Talk succinctly about why the issue is important to you and why you believe the Congressman should care
ii. Share your best two points and either leave more information, or follow-up by email post-meeting
iii. NEVER ever threaten to go to the media, etc. if you don’t get the answer/reaction you want … it’s the easiest way to never ever get a meeting with the Congressmen or staff again (And yes, I’ve seen this behavior firsthand, and yes that very passionate and “good” group was banned from future meetings.)
5.) Have a story ready – Think about the last time you heard a talk, speech, or presentation that stuck with you … There’s usually a one-liner, a story or anecdote that illustrated the single-most important point to walk away with …
a. “GMO foods are part of our water solution because plants are now more drought resistant, as well as pest resistant – reducing both water use and pesticide contamination”
b. “Joint-Employer not only takes away a business’ ability to hire, it takes away the ability to pay our workers better. It means franchise businesses of all kinds no longer qualify for SBA loans, & it takes away the ability for entrepreneurs to become niche experts as contractors – whether that’s tile laying, forensic accounting, landscape engineering or specialized nurse.”
BONUS Point: Ask away!
- Don’t be afraid to ask what the Congressmen is working on (whether it’s your issue or otherwise)
- It’s good to know what Congress or this member is really dialed into right now.
- Ask their position on your issue OR if you can provide more information.