Gregory Wetstone is President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE). ACORE is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing renewable energy through finance, policy, and market development. With member companies from across the spectrum of renewable energy technologies and close ties to the renewable energy finance sector, ACORE is the preeminent voice for the nation’s renewable energy industry.
Prior to joining ACORE Greg oversaw government affairs as Vice President for Terra-Gen Power LLC, a renewable energy company with utility-scale wind, solar and geothermal energy facilities. Prior to his six year term with Terra-Gen, he served as Senior Director for Government and Public Affairs at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and Director of Programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), where he founded the legislative program. Earlier in his career, Greg was Senior Counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and played an important role in crafting a number of important laws including the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.
A Major Shift in Energy Generation
Last year two-thirds of all the new electricity brought onto the grid was renewable energy, overwhelmingly wind and solar power. And that’s a big change. That percentage has been growing year after year, really going all the way back to 2000. Now you see wind and solar out-competing fossil sources, including natural gas, at a time when prices for natural gas are at a record low.
High Stakes in the 2016 Presidential Election
We don’t get involved in elections, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not fully aware of what the repercussions are or could be…I think there’s a big difference. I would not be surprised if investors have been waiting in the sidelines a little bit in the run-up to this election because I would expect that it would make a big difference to the investment climate whether we have a president who is currently supportive of the agenda suggesting, really, an inevitable transition to renewable energy, versus a candidate who is leaning strongly in a very different direction.
Growth in Renewables Fueled by Economic Opportunity
The fact that this is an economic opportunity is clear and inescapable, and it’s the reason that renewable energy has attracted such a high level of investment in the last several years. We’re at a point now where, with more than $44 billion last year, aggregate investment in the U.S. in renewable energy is over $370 billion…In a lot of the developed world, renewables are the biggest single infrastructure investment that’s going on. You’re actually seeing more spent on renewables than on traditional infrastructure like roads and bridges, which is a pretty big surprise.
Renewables Are Really Working, So We Can’t Stop Now
Other countries in Europe, China, India, are making massive investments as well. Much of this technology was developed right here at home in the United States and we should be doing everything we can to own this transition and to be leaders in this transition. It shouldn’t be caught up in the partisan dynamic because there’s tremendous economic opportunity here. It’s time to get moving on this, and think we have the pieces right now to continue to move forward at an accelerating pace and to get this done.
ACORE: Building a Renewable Economy
The American Council on Renewable Energy, ACORE, is a nonprofit organization that works to promote renewable energy writ large. We have members from all the major renewable sectors, including the varying technologies: wind, solar, geothermal…Our mission is to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy economy, and we define that to mean the level of renewable energy investment and deployment that we need to meet the U.S. commitments in the Paris agreement.
Attend the ACORE Finance West Conference, November 1 in San Francisco
ACORE Finance West is a major conference on renewable energy finance in the West: how the sector is growing there, what are the major factors influencing the growth, what’s challenging. We’ll be having CEOs of major companies, representatives from major corporations who are important purchasers of renewable energy—including, for example, Google and Amazon and Microsoft and Nike and Facebook— and that will be November 1 in San Francisco.