Ka-Ching! Biden sparks clean energy lobbying frenzy


By Timothy Cama, E&E News reporter

A bevy of clean energy companies has registered to lobby the federal government in recent months, just as President Biden and the new Democratic majority in Congress take the reins.

More than three dozen companies in the clean energy sector have disclosed new lobbying arrangements since Election Day, compared with fewer than 10 in the similar period following Election Day 2016, a review of disclosures shows.

Some are lobbying federal officials for the first time, while others are signing with new external firms or hiring new in-house lobbyists.

Companies with new lobbying agreements include EV Connect Inc., Pattern Energy Group, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Hannon Armstrong, First Solar Inc. and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

The rush to push the case for new policies to benefit wind, solar, nuclear or other low- or zero-emitting energy sources appears at least somewhat related to new optimism that federal officials are listening and sympathetic.

Biden and Democrats in Congress have promised to make climate change a top-tier issue in how they govern, and significant new pro-clean-energy provisions and spending are likely to be part of any new policies they pass, like greenhouse gas regulations, new tax incentives or new mandates.

That’s a stark contrast from when President Trump was in the White House and the GOP controlled at least one chamber of Congress. Trump was an aggressive fossil fuel supporter, and major climate legislation had little chance of passing.

“We live in times where we see long spans of legislative gridlock, where it’s really hard to move policy, particularly positive policy,” Gregory Wetstone, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, told E&E News. “And I think there’s a broad recognition that this is a moment of opportunity for advancing clean energy and addressing climate change.”

Wetstone said the industry sees a major opportunity to make progress on its major priorities, like long-term tax incentives and modernizing the electric grid.

“There’s a real focus on making sure that we take full strategic advantage of the chance to move forward across the landscape of policy opportunities, which includes a lot of regulatory and executive action, and also perhaps the opportunity to get something good done in Congress,” he said.

‘Interesting and exciting times’

Among the companies getting into the lobbying game for the first time is OW North America, the U.S. arm of offshore wind developer Ocean Winds.

The company is planning to build the Mayflower Wind project off Massachusetts in a partnership with Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and also is eyeing a potential floating wind farm off California’s coast.