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Energy Management in the Trump Era

flag-what-next.jpgThe dust has settled after the November elections, and the results are unchanged despite a flurry of protests.

Now that we are in the final days of Obama’s presidency, one thing is certain on the energy management front: change is in the wind. Today’s blog takes a look at President-Elect Donald Trump’s ambitious energy plan, and speculates a bit on what it might mean for our industry in the months and years ahead.

The Plan

Trump unveiled his energy plan last spring, and the most recent (October) iteration is virtually identical, point-for-point to the one he outlined then:

  • Rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.

  • Ask TransCanada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.

  • Lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas

  • Revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies. These technologies will create millions of jobs with a smaller footprint than ever before.

  • Cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.

  • Scrap regulation that is outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers, or contrary to the national interest. Eliminate duplication, provide regulatory certainty, and trust local officials and local residents.

  • Apply new regulation litmus test: Is this regulation good for the American worker? If it doesn’t pass this test, the rule will not be approved.

There is one point in the energy plan that Trump originally presented at a May campaign stop in North Dakota that is missing from the current version: his promise to “save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda.” But even if he’s not talking about coal quite so vocally since the election, his recent appointment of Texas ex-Governor Rick Perry to the post of Energy Secretary suggests that fossil fuel advocates will find a sympathetic ear in the White House.


The Effects

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that new oil refineries and refining capacity are in America’s future, near- and long-term. With Trump’s anti-regulation bent, continued development of fossil fuel extraction technology, and additional oil supplies flowing to the U.S. from a re-invigorated Keystone Pipeline Project, we can expect to see further reductions in the price of natural gas, oil and oil-related products, driving down energy costs for consumers.

With energy taking a smaller slice of the economic pie for public and private institutions, energy managers will be harder-pressed to show the economic benefits of retrofit projects. Funding and/or subsidies and tax advantages for development of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar can also be expected to decline.

The new president’s promises to rescind the Climate Action Plan and cancel the Paris Climate Agreement will undoubtedly blunt the force of federal involvement in tracking and reporting of greenhouse gases. Trump’s cabinet-level pick for EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, favors a rollback in regulations, saying “The American people are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses.”

The Prognosis

With a new anti-regulation and business-minded administration in the White House, expect more cap-and-trade systems and proposals to fall by the wayside. The trickle-down impact is that we will be hearing much less about “carbon pollution” and much more about “energy efficiency” from energy stakeholders interested in successfully framing their issues for the new administration and/or the citizens who elected it.

Organizations that are nimble enough to negotiate the new energy climate in Washington and across the country will be ideally poised to strengthen their positions and programs, as spending for energy management systems is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of more than 22.52 percent through 2020, according to one estimate.

Your Opinion?

What are your thoughts about the changes in Washington from an energy management standpoint? Will U.S. businesses place less emphasis on energy conservation? How specifically do you think your organization will be (or has been) impacted? Will the changes be net positive or negative?” Comment back to us!