The American Clean Power Association (ACP)—a 2021-launched pan-renewables trade group—may be poised to merge with the U.S. Energy Storage Association (ESA) starting on Jan. 1, 2022.
The groups’ intent to pursue a merger, announced on July 22, still requires ESA’s member approval. If successful, it would combine the two trade association’s staff programs and members, and potentially expand the ACP’s reach into the dedicated energy storage group’s diverse membership. ESA currently has 200 members from companies that include independent power producers, electric utilities, energy service companies, financiers, insurers, law firms, installers, manufacturers, component suppliers, and integrators.
The ACP says it has 1,000 member companies and 120,000 members. The group launched in January 2021 as a pan-renewables group that “unifies” the wind, solar, storage, and transmission industries, though its core membership comprises former members of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), a group with which it merged at the start of this year.
AWEA, which grew into a national trade association for the U.S. wind industry since it was established in 1974, in May 2019 announced it was moving toward a pan-renewables association when it unveiled CLEANPOWER, an exhibition hub that would incorporate utility-scale wind, solar, energy storage, and other clean energy technologies. The subsector event coalition would “create efficiencies for exhibitors and attendees with multi-technology business models,” it said.
During the inaugural CLEANPOWER event, which was held virtually last summer owing to the pandemic, AWEA joined forces with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), National Hydropower Association (NHA), and ESA to release a set of joint advocacy principles that sought more collaboration. Their vision, notably, also laid out principles to boost renewable generation so that it would make up the majority of U.S. power generation by 2030. The principles also push for a “more resilient, efficient, sustainable, and affordable grid; achieving carbon reductions; and advancing greater competition through fair market rules.”
ACP’s newly announced intent to merge with ESA will “enhance the American Clean Power Association’s efforts to advocate for the economic and environmental advantages of the clean power economy and further position the renewable energy and storage industries for success as they move into a decade of transformative growth,” it said on Thursday.
“Energy storage is foundational to a cleaner energy future for the country,” said Jim Murphy, president of Invenergy and the chairman of the board for ACP. “Joining together with ESA strengthens the unified voice of the clean power industry as we continue to transform the U.S. power grid to a low-cost, reliable, and renewable power system.”
According to Kiran Kumaraswamy, vice president of Market Applications at energy storage firm Fluence and the chair of ESA’s board, the merger kicks off “a powerful new chapter for our industry and a pathway to achieving 100 GW of new energy storage by 2030.” The ESA Board of Directors is “confident that a merger will elevate advocacy, research, and educational efforts on behalf of the energy storage industry, with significant benefits and expanded opportunities for ESA’s staff and membership,” she said.
An expansion of the ACP could amplify the trade group’s voice in the state and federal environment, where major initiatives are underway to reshape the U.S. power sector with a renewables backbone. “Our goal is to make clean energy the dominant electricity source in the United States,” the group explains. “ACP gives a voice to the renewable power sector to speak at a time when renewable investments can help rebuild our economy and address climate change.”
Another well-known pan-renewables group, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), has since 2001 advocated for similar renewables priorities, backed by members that include developers, manufacturers, financial institutions, corporate renewable energy buyers, grid technology providers, utilities, professional service firms, academic institutions, and allied nonprofit groups. ACORE has said it “accomplishes much of its work by convening key stakeholders, facilitating partnerships, educating senior officials on important policies, publishing research and analysis on pressing issues, and undertaking strategic outreach on the policies and financial structures essential to renewable energy growth.”
ACORE and ACP are also separately lobbying for similar outcomes on the federal scene. Their priorities echo key ambitions expressed by the Biden administration—specifically a call for a nationwide 100% carbon-free power target by 2035.
Joining Forces as Washington Deliberates the Nation’s Future Energy Direction
The Biden administration is currently spearheading several measures to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure. While President Biden struck a deal with a bipartisan group of senators earlier this month on a $579 billion package dubbed the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework,” the package is a scaled-back version of the president’s proposed American Jobs Plan. However, it envisions $73 billion for power infrastructure, including for “thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy” through a new Grid Authority. Negotiations on the package have dragged on for weeks, though the bipartisan senators on Wednesday said they have made “significant progress and are close to a final agreement.”
On July 14, meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources advanced an energy infrastructure package—“the Energy Infrastructure Act”—by a 13–7 vote, with Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) voting with Democrat senators in favor of the bill. Sponsored by Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the measure could serve as legislative text for key portions of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, including power infrastructure, Western water, resilience, abandoned mine lands, and orphan wells.
An amended version of the bill authorizes more than $100 billion for grid reliability and resilience, a transmission expansion, and the demonstration of emerging technologies, including electric-vehicle battery second-life applications for grid services; rare earth elements; energy storage technologies; advanced reactor projects; carbon capture projects; and, in a legislative first, hydrogen development.
—Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine)