Duke University Energy Conference 2017 – Panel: Renewable Energy

– I hope everyone enjoyed lunch My name is Paige Swofford, I'm a third year, dual degree student here at Duke

And one of the co-presidents of the MBA Energy Club And I'm really excited to introduce our next panel We have some wonderful speakers here with us Immediately to my left is Zoe Gamble Hanes, who's the president of Pine Gate Renewables We have Katharine Kollins, the president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition, as well as Fred Robinson, the vice president of New Markets Development at Cyprus Creek Renewables

So renewable energy has come up a number of times today throughout our different segments, and it really touches so many different areas of the energy industry that we've been talking about And with so much going on, we can't cover everything in 45 minutes, but we're gonna try to hit on the big topics and trends that our panelists are seeing And remember also that we'll do a Q&A segment at the end So there's information on the screen about how to submit questions for our panelists So, to start us off, I wanna give the panelists each a moment to introduce themselves

All three of these organizations are active, at least in part, in the southeast So, could you introduce yourself and your organization and share a little bit about why the southeast is an attractive region for wind and solar development? – So, my name is Zoe Gamble Hanes, and Pine Gate is a utility-scale solar company that has its roots in Jacksonville, Florida, and then about 18 months ago, moved from doing very focused on site origination to the later stages of development and project finance, and owning and operating assets We have projects that we, under development in 16 states The southeast, in particular, I think one of the interesting things about the southeast is that it almost, ah, isn't a market as a region, because of North Carolina And so you've had this incredible concentration of experience and talent that started looking around and saying: well, where else can we go? What else are we gonna do? And other states looking to North Carolina and saying: how can we get some of that? And it's created a market, and I think it's a fantastic example of what one state can do to an entire region by just taking the first step

– Okay, great, I'm Katharine Kollins I run the Southeastern Wind Coalition We are a 501C-3 nonprofit We work on wind power outreach and education around the southeast, so we cover 11 states in the southeast And we look at land-based wind, offshore wind, wind imports, so that's generating in the Midwest and bringing that into the southeast through transmission, and supply chain

We, the southeast is a niche market for wind But an important market, at that And what makes us really excited about wind at the coalition in the southeast specifically, is new technology So the only way that wind can and will make sense, from an economic standpoint in the southeast, is through technology that helps us harness winds, harness kind of lower wind regime winds, higher hub heights, longer blades, so you can capture more energy with a single machine And we're starting to see, we're starting to see some excitement around various developments in the southeast

And we'll, hopefully, continue to see more – Sure, my name is Fred Robinson, I'm the vice president of New Markets Development for Cyprus Creek Basically, I mean, Cyprus Creek's story is the southeast We started out in the state of North Carolina We're a utility-scale solar development company

We were able to basically benefit from what I would constitute as one of the greatest solar markets I've ever seen So we have about seven to 800 megawatts of operating assets right now in the state of North Carolina, and have started to kind of, basically, leverage that success story into other markets in the south, so we're just about to go into South Carolina I think we just made an announcement that we're gonna do about one and a half billion dollars down there, doing utility-scale projects, and have started to do some stuff in Georgia, and I think it really, it, the crux of it has been, really, basing everything off of kind of the perfect elements that have come together in North Carolina And it is the off-tape regime they had there, the fantastic labor market that was available, and just a lot of people who were willing to put their heads together and make this market work And we've started to basically expand it out, across the southeast; we're starting to do development in Alabama, in Georgia, have looked at some other states as well in the southeast, and have grown the company

Since that point, I think we're about 26 states at this stage, so all throughout the country, and we owe all of it, basically, to the southeast – Thank you; I think we're all really excited to dive in more to what you all have been working on, but Katharine, I wanted to start with a question for you You mentioned that the Southeastern Wind Coalition focuses on onshore, offshore, and imported wind And looking at the southeast, some of the highest wind speed potentials come from offshore wind Can you talk a little bit about what you think has held back offshore wind development in the US, and particularly states like North and South Carolina, and do you think we'll see increased development offshore in the future? – Yeah, so offshore wind is, ah, it's an interesting, it's an interesting technology and it's a fun one, obviously, people love to, you know, it's beautiful, well, a lot of people think it's beautiful

Not everybody, but ah, you know, you get scale, you get a great wind regime offshore A lot of people talk about the offshore wind pattern matches load much more closely than onshore winds So there are a lot of benefits to offshore wind, but the biggest, the most important reason that we haven't seen offshore wind development is cost So, the way that I see the offshore market, kind of moving forward in the southeast is, right now, in the northeast, for those of you who kind of follow energy policy and state-level policy, there has been a lot of momentum in the northeast to heavily encourage offshore wind development So, just about all the states in the northeast, at this point, have made a, have made a commitment to source and generate a certain number of megawatts of offshore wind, so I think that once we start to see that build-out, we're gonna see a US supply chain start to take hold, and start to see the economies of scale that we've seen in Europe that will effectively bring those costs down to a point where, you know, I think you're gonna see development move north to south

So, North Carolina's got an offshore lease right now with Avant Grid; they're really excited about that lease, but at the same time they're the first ones to say: this is the long-term play You know, you kinda, you have to wait for the cost curves to, you know, supply and demand to cross, and ah, from a cost perspective, and so, you know, we're probably looking at another decade out – Sure, that's great So we all heard from Brad Kitchens in his opening address, talk about the Renewable Energy 100 group of companies, and generally, we're seeing growing interest from corporations who want to procure renewable energy either on site or through virtual PPA agreements So, I wanted to ask you all: how have your organizations started responding to these new corporate customers entering the market? How does this, or does this change your approach to originations and risk management? And Fred, if you'd like to start us off? – Sure, yeah, so I mean, absolutely

I think it's probably the largest part of our growth strategy As far as, like, how we go about originate, I kitchen-sink it Like, if anyone in this crowd knows anyone who's looking for off-take, more than happy to take that phone call Honestly, there's so many ways that you can go about it It depends, some corporates like to go through brokers, because they don't feel that they understand the energy markets enough, so you have folks like Altenex, who think that they can come in and kind of help originate those sort of transactions

You have your Fortune 100s, who are probably some of the most sophisticated energy folks out there, like Facebook, Google; they run their own process So from our perspective, it's a lot of getting to know the people who are on their energy management team, developing a relationship with them, telling a story about who Cyprus is, what do we do, you know, what is our operating history, and the performance behind our assets But, and then largely, you go look at the traditional power markets, you know, your big trading desks, like Morgan Stanley, folks like that Shell, that has a big trade shop And retail electric providers, who are trying to make those markets

But I think it's, honestly, this is probably the most exciting, for my role with the company, I think it's probably the most exciting part of what we're working on right now – [Paige] Great Zoe, would you like to add to that? – No, I think that was good (laughing) – Well, great Another key news headline we're seeing a lot of these days is discussion around the solar trade case that's going through right now, and we'd love to get your perspective

Maybe, Zoe, you can talk about how, either your organization or the more broad solar industry is thinking about how they'll respond to these potential tariffs on imported panels, and what impact could that have on the solar development that we're seeing? – Just for context, does everybody in the room have, know the story here? I don't wanna repeat information that's already been discussed today – [Fred] One hand, we got one hand – One hand, okay, good (laughing) Okay, I'll give a very short synopsis So, the amazing thing about solar has been that we are driving costs down to the point that it is competitive, truly, with natural gas and other brown forms of power

And you saw things like the Georgia RFP come out, where the bid prices into the Georgia RFP that were shortlisted were in the 20s, which is really phenomenally low If you think about the cost declines for solar, when I started building, when we started building solar, I guess seven years ago, maybe longer than that Anyways, it was like, you know, seven dollars a watt And we were looking at bidding into that RFP, assuming build costs in the 80 cent range, a watt And that has primarily come from two places

The biggest is the panels And so there's been this incredible cost decline in the cost of panels The other has been in the efficiency of building in all kinds of incremental ways In large part, in my view, that has to do with building out utility-scale solar in a concentrated and meaningful way in North Carolina And that enabled this sort of industry knowledge about ways that you can build a solar farm more efficiently

So, that was an incredible promise, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, (laughing) you don't have anybody trying to take the tax credits out of the tax reform, you don't have the, you know, Trump Administration coming in and saying: we wanna kill solar Instead, what ended up happening that put a huge, wet blanket on all this success story is these two bankrupt companies that are manufacturers here in the United States that filed a trade case And it's this sort of arcane area of trade laws called Section 201, and it doesn't require that the petitioner show any kind of dumping or other government intervention All that the petitioner has to show is that there has been harm to US manufacturing And if harm is found, there is a recommendation for some form of relief in the form of a tariff or otherwise, and that decision is, goes directly to President Trump, and the president will ultimately make a decision on whether or not there should be tariffs put on imported solar panels

The petitioners asked for a, basically a floor price Panels were trading in the 30 cent range, when this case came through, and they requested that there be a floor price on all panels imported from everywhere in the world of 73 cents So more than twice the cost of what the current import cost was And that had this incredible, immediate impact, both in terms of projects, say, for example, Pine Gate had a project that it had shortlisted in the Georgia RFP, and we had to withdraw that project because it required a one and a half million dollar bid bond in order to proceed with the project, which is indicative and reflective of how mature the solar industry has become, that we're now this, we're not the sort of fringy kind of industry We're now being asked to put up one and a half million dollar bid bonds in order to participate in real power markets, but we can't do that if there's the threat that panels are suddenly gonna be more than twice the cost

So we had to let that project go That was an immediate impact Then the craziness started happening in the panel markets themselves So, all of a sudden, supply and demand, everybody was trying to get their panels in country before the end of the year in order to escape any potential tariffs, while the rest of the market, but you have to think about it, China did 45 gigawatts of solar last year, so this is not a US, this is not just, the United States isn't the only place in the world that is putting solar in the ground So we're competing for panels internationally, and there was an increase in panel prices of approximately 30 percent that happened overnight

So, companies like Cyprus, companies like Pine Gate were building projects, had financed them, obligations under PPAs and our financing partners, and out of nowhere, you would have a panel manufacturer say: sorry, I know we said we'd deliver your panels for whatever price; we're not gonna deliver you those panels unless you agree to pay 15 cents more So, that was, you know, that was hard for a company like Pine Gate, which was really in its first year of major construction on projects It had 200 megawatts of projects that were under construction when this happened So, right now where it sits is that the trade commission took a bunch of evidence and made a recommendation that is equivalent to approximately 10 cents a watt Gave three different scenarios for how that would work

That recommendation is now going to US trade representatives so the president's office has assigned a trade representative to make, to help make the recommendation about whether to accept what was proposed by the trade commission, or whether to propose an alternative solution, or no solution We don't really know The uncertainty is the challenge But there's gonna be a hearing on that in December And then we'll have a decision by January 12th

– Okay, thank you I think everyone really appreciates that background for a very complex topic, and on a similar, but different, note, Katharine, you and I had talked a little bit about how the risk of that kind of trade case happening in the wind arena is less likely, due to the domestic manufacturing that does occur But we discussed potential proposed changes to the production tax credit, so I hoped you could share a little with the audience about what that proposal is, and then about how your member organizations are thinking about it – Yeah, so, it really just gets back to the whole underlying theme of uncertainty And so, at the federal level right now, the house tax reform bill has included in it, well, I'll step back a little bit, but the wind industry had negotiated a phase down of the production tax credit

The production tax credit is the main tax credit that wind farm developers take advantage of and use And a couple years back, they said, you know, there was a lot of discussion with congress about, okay, we can't continue this thing in perpetuity There had been a lot of fits and starts with the tax credits as I'm sure most of you are aware, but so, there was a phase down They said: okay, this year it's 100 percent Next year, 80, 60, the next five years we'll phase it out

Well, there was a five percent safe harbor clause, that was inserted in that so, in that original language, so if you either spend five percent of, ah, five percent of the total wind farm costs in a given year, then, and continue, continue development and construction from that point, then you're eligible for the amount of the tax credit in which you started and made that initial outlay of five percent So developers will do things like purchase certain parts of the turbine in advance, or make certain site improvements that allow them to qualify under that five percent safe harbor law The house tax bill that was just proposed within the last week eliminates that five percent safe harbor, which might not sound like a big deal, but the American Wind Energy Association estimates that that will half wind development over the next four years, so it is, it is nothing to be taken lightly You know, they're hopeful right now that there's enough support in the Senate to ensure that, that that isn't passed, but it could be a huge hit for the wind industry, so I think, you know, again, it just continues to be, uncertainty is a big driver of business risk and risk in the renewables industry – Sure, absolutely

And I think the topic of change and uncertainty is something we've heard a lot about today Another topic that's been touched on a few times, particularly by Chip Russell during his Duke Talk, was about energy storage So we're seeing a growing interest in pairing energy storage with renewables development, so as the prices of battery storage systems continue to decline, I'd love to hear from all of you about what you're seeing in terms of developers exploring pairing storage with renewable development Starting with Fred? – Sure, yeah So, we actually just commercialized our first systems of solar-plus storage

So we did 12 systems in Brunswick Electric Cooperative, which is right on the eastern shore in North Carolina They're 500 KW systems, with 500 KW batteries and two hours of storage, I believe And the reason why we did it, and the reason why the cooperative wanted the system, is basically that we're storing the solar energy into the battery, and then waiting for the cooperative to hit their peak demand So, in the winter, I think it's in the morning, and then in the summertime, it's in the afternoon They have a very predictable demand

And so we can come and turn the batteries on, and what it actually acts like, for the cooperative, it acts like a demand charge reduction So from their view, it's almost like it's a behind the meter system They have a G&T, which is a generation and transmission provider, called NCENC, and NCENC actually charges them a fixed fee for the peak demand that they pull on, from NCENC So it's a 15 year deal, or a 15 year agreement that we have with Brunswick, and what the batteries are basically just doing is they're coming on, reducing the peak demand, they pay a lower demand charge to NCENC, and get some savings based on the way that the deal has been structured with them It was the most difficult transaction I think I've ever been involved with

I would highly not advise it, if you can avoid trying to get the ITC on a battery, you should do it It was pretty, from a technical perspective, I don't know if a lot of people know, but when you take, when you try to capture the ITC on a battery, there's a very rigid IRS standard that says that all the energy that goes into the battery needs to come from renewable energy And so you have to do this very rigid accounting system to make sure all that is happening And it's a very, very complicated process, but we did it and we spent a lot of money making sure the engineers got that right So hopefully we're gonna do some more, but I think if, looking at the industry on a forward basis, I heard someone on the panel before saying that in front of the meter storage was probably three to five years away

I actually disagree with that, because the ITC is going to go away in 2019, and the ability of us to capture the ITC on the battery fundamentally changes the economics And if you just look at how battery prices are falling, it's, I mean, I think Next Era, some folks are here, they did a PPA for $45 the other day I mean, you go back two or three years in the solar industry and people would be jumping up and down for a PPA price like that, so, ah, it's pretty incredible to see how the economics have started to shift in such a short period of time I mean, from our perspective, on a planning, when we develop solar projects, it takes us about, you know, on the long side of it, three years, maybe 18 months to get a project done So, I'm already looking at 2019, 2020, when we're developing sites

And every site that we develop now is constantly, it's: how can we put a battery on this? How can we put a battery on this? The biggest gap I think we're seeing right now is there's very few applications right now Demand charge reduction is a very simple application The product that you're selling to the customer is pretty straightforward, and how we plan for it is pretty straightforward I think where the industry needs to start to evolve is to figure out application stacking, or getting into more complicated structures of off-take – Great, thanks

And Zoe or Katharine, do you have anything to add from your perspectives on, are customers, Zoe, starting to ask for batteries? Are your wind developers looking at this yet, or is it still a little further off on the horizon? – So, I think that, I mean, I pointed to Fred because Cyprus is really doing this in a way that, I mean, my understanding is that the idea of putting batteries with, ah, storage plus solar is going to be sort of standard And it's not gonna be that far away in the future I'm hesitant because my husband does battery storage development for the commercial business at Duke Energy, and, ah, you know, I think he was recently quoted in Forbes saying that batteries were going to blanket the nation, and you know, I think there's actually some truth, when you look at the incredible cost declines that are happening in batteries It's very similar to what happened in solar, and I think that when you sit here and you look at it as being sort of futuristic technology, and very quickly we're gonna look back on it, and it's gonna seem just like what happened with solar – Yeah, and I'll just say from a wind perspective, in general, wind projects are, on whole, larger than solar projects, and I think, you know, the kind of batteries that we're looking at right now, where you're trying to shave, you know, where you're trying to capture, ah, solar energy during a certain part of the day, that kind of thing, that makes a lot of sense, to pair a smaller battery with a smaller system

500 kilowatts You know, when you get to a 200 megawatt wind farm, your best options for demand shaving, or you know, for really manipulating either load or generation, you know, kind of come from a utility-scale application, so I think that's where you'll see larger, utility-scale batteries But not that they would necessarily be tied to wind development – Sure, that's great So another discussion that we've had today on a panel earlier was around changing customer engagement, and that was primarily talking about the end user of electricity and their interaction with energy companies or with the utility, but I know you all also have to think about: who are your stakeholders and customers? So can you talk a little bit about, when you go in to develop a project, how do you engage with the communities and really ensure the community is getting a benefit from the projects? Can you talk about some of the challenges you may face with land owners or local policy-makers, and how do you educate them about the benefits of what you're doing? – [Fred] I feel like you're looking at me, so– – Anyone can start, but you're welcome to

– Ah, so, I would say that there's a lot of different ways that solar touches communities So, the most fundamental is property taxes So, you take a piece of land that was being used for agricultural purposes and was likely exempt in some way and not providing a lot of revenue to the community, and you're investing a lot of money that is providing significant property tax basis One of my favorite flyers that I saw at some point in Darlington County, South Carolina, they were looking at property tax abatement, and we're, to be clear, like, these dollar figures are with some form of property tax abatement, is that the current revenue coming from this county was something like $800 a year And if all the solar farms that were proposed came through, it would be $1

2 million a year, over the life of the asset That's a lot of money for a community that has a population of I don't know, I think it was 70,000 people So, it was the equivalent of, ah, I think 42 teachers, 13 new parks So they really translate that into what is, what is available for a community when you're providing that kind of revenue without taking anything from it There's no police services that are required, or roads or water or, you know, those are mostly just dollars going in

So that's the first thing that I always wanna highlight for people when we're talking about these in the community – [Paige] That's great; thanks – So maybe a little bit, a little bit different perspective, given that one, I'm not a developer We, as a coalition, we very much highlight the economic development benefits of wind And that's a great message for a lot of folks

Some of the, some of the other resistance that we encounter is more at the local, kind of county, county commissioner level, and then sometimes to the state level, which we have seen in North Carolina, Tennessee, in the last year or so, and so a lot of what our organization works on is engagement, not necessarily of the broader community always, but definitely engagement on those levels, with those stakeholders where we feel like we can make a difference So, bringing county commissioners in to try to, you know, help them see, one, the economic, you know, the economic benefits usually are apparent for them, but what happens in a lot of places is you get a lot of very smart misinformation campaigns So, there are people who, ah, are technically retired but their full time job is going around and trying to ensure that no renewables projects, either wind or solar, depending on their preference, are developed And so a lot of what we do is we go educate the county commissioners and we say: no, you know, the negative health effects cited are not something that you need to worry about and here's why People will not get nosebleeds and headaches, and whatever else is sort of the fun of the day that these folks are bringing up

So a lot of what we're doing is really just trying to dispel misinformation, which is very easy to find I heard a couple times people talking about, ah, using the ice-throw argument in North Carolina On the east coast, so the large turbines, and if they collect ice, ice-throw is when large turbines collect ice when it's icy, snowy, rainy, and then it builds up and can fly off But obviously not a big issue here, when you know, you've got states like South Dakota, Iowa, North Dakota, covered in wind turbines So, things like that, we're always trying to find new ways to educate both our county and state-level governments around the southeast

– Yeah, I think, you know, from our perspective, over the past three years, we've learned to be way more proactive I think one of the things that was probably a misstep on our part is we would go into markets, we would develop them, and then we would try and go to talk to folks And, I, you end up with a lot of misinformation, or people were just kind of going by a property and they see someone out there, and they start to draw their own conclusions And so we're way more proactive, upfront We try to meet with every single farm bureau that we possibly can in any state, to communicate with them what it is we're trying to do, what the process looks like, any economic development department that we possibly can get in touch with, getting involved in zoning processes, if there's a, you know a zoning rule going at the state, we'll try and get involved to help guide that along, by using examples we've used in North Carolina, or other states

And I think another subset of that is we have tried to get more thoughtful on how we develop the solar projects We started to do a pollinator program, where we just commercialized a project in Maryland that has a pollinator little garden in the back, that can kind of integrate better with the ecosystem around it; we put a bunch of bee hives there, which I think our Own It folks are really excited about But the idea is to really kind of get it more ingrained with the community and I think the biggest thing, too, is just always being really conscious of what the solar system looks like Some people really like it We have a land owner who we basically surrounded his entire house in solar panels, and he's the happiest person on the planet

Other people don't wanna see it, don't wanna be in anything close to it And so, to the extent we can get out in front of that and understand, you know, people in New York are gonna look at solar different than people in Texas And we just have to be conscious of that – Great, thank you So, we're gonna turn to some of our audience questions, and it looks like you all have submitted some wonderful questions, both new and following up on some of the things we have covered

So, I wanna start off with a new question One of our audience members wants to know: what are some innovative designs or technologies that you are keeping an eye on, or looking to expand into? – So, one of the initiatives that I'm most excited about at Pine Gate is, we're calling it a permaculture initiative, so it's saying, okay, well, we've got this land and beyond pollinators, which are an important, an important part of what I think solar is looking at, is: how can we leave the soil in a better condition than how we found it? And so I say this is a technology, because it really is looking at our solar farms and saying: is there an asset underneath here that we haven't really been fully appreciating and valuing? So we have NREL, using a couple of our sites, to look at what are some of the, ah, let me back up: there's two parts to the initiative One is to look at: how can we leave the soil in a better condition than how we found it? The second is: are there secondary agricultural uses, other than sheep, which I know there's a lot of sheep that are put on solar farms, but we're looking at growing, growing plants What can be done on a solar farm in a way that is, that can work together? So we have our, NREL is doing some studies on our sites One really cool idea that we had was from Oregon State

Apparently there's only one kind of barley that is used in making beer; I don't drink beer so I don't know But Oregon State has come up with a new kind of barley that doesn't ever grow higher than three feet So, is there an opportunity to grow a different kind of barley and then maybe make beer that's solar beer? I don't know (laughing) – [Paige] I think you'd get some interest from this room about solar beer – But I'm saying that, in terms of outside of technology, yes, there's lots of technological advances, but for me, the most exciting part is thinking more creatively about ways that you can maximize what's happening

Because as we use more and more agricultural land, the questions that come up in these communities will be, be more vocal – I'll just say, my guess is, because I do get this question a lot, especially in academic settings, you know, talking about some of the new Google technologies or wind lift, or those kinds of things They're very interesting We don't do anything along those lines You know, we, again, we're not a developer, but at the same time, we definitely have a heavy focus on utility-scale generation

So in terms of utility-scale generation, there are technology advances occurring all the time They're just not that "cool", right? They're not gonna make it to the latest Costco magazine, or whatever, you know, little free pamphlet that you're gonna get and read about something really cool Clearly, I read the Costco Connection (laughing) I am showing my age Yeah, so, so, you know, in terms of new technology, I mean, what we are seeing in the southeast is new technology related to taller towers

So in Germany, one of the tall tower technologies that they've used in a pretty meaningful way, is to do a concrete base and then put a steel tower on top of that, because if you think about a steel tower and all you wanna do is add 30 meters to it, it's not just an additional 30 meters I mean, the instability that you cause in the additional, the additional metal and material required to bring something 30 meters, to add 30 meters in height, is significant And it's cost prohibitive right now So there are a lot of new technologies for kind of figuring out how to weld a tower in place, so that you can create a tall tower that's welded in place, sorry, and you know, gearbox efficiencies, all of the time, longer blades, so all these fantastic new materials, lighter materials, allow you to create a longer blade, without, you know, added stresses on the generator and the machine, so again, not the super cool, ah, fun technology advancements, but nonetheless, they are the advancements that has brought the cost of wind down 60 percent over the last five years – Yeah, I think that for us, it's probably a combination of hybrid inverters and higher wattage panels

And basically, what I, I call them hybrid inverters My engineer would probably throw rocks at me for saying that because there's like, 10 different varieties of them But it's the ability to basically over, so, in solar you have an AC side and you have a DC side We always oversize our DC side, so that we can have a longer life of the actual system, so we can produce more energy because the panels degrade Now that we have these higher wattage panels, we A, take up a smaller footprint which is just good for everyone, for the local community, and allows us to do the size system we wanna do, but we take up less acreage

But at the same time, it allows us to actually start to do more DC-coupled battery systems, and that means when we do that, the high AC to DC side, we get a lot of clipping, which basically means that we're basically, like, islanding power that we could use and deliver to the grid, but because our AC side is lower than our DC side, it won't allow the energy to flow We can store that in a battery, and then use that energy later I would say that, you know, from a technology standpoint, that's probably where our engineers are spending the most time right now I don't know if that was anywhere near coherent, but that's what we're focused on – That's great, thank you

I think a lot of really cool ideas that you all are looking at We have another question, going back to our conversation about the solar trade case The question is: are you at all worried about a global economy where China controls the solar PV manufacturing, and do you see the trade case as being at all effective in helping the US to retain some claim in this manufacturing? – It's an important question Actually, the, I wish I had the slide The majority of the panels aren't actually manufactured in China

It's really a global supply I think the, so that's a bit of a misnomer A lot of that has already moved into other places But I think it's a fair question to ask, is: should the United States have manufacturing for solar? And I would emphasize that there is manufacturing in the United States for solar There's 40,000 manufacturing jobs related to solar, and making steel and the component parts, the inverse and racking and, ah, so just to make sure that we don't leave that part out, because it's an important, that's an important story that needs to be sure, be sure we're telling

I think, there is an opportunity for US-based manufacturing However, I'm not sure that the solutions that have been really proposed by the commission and the trade case are ones that are gonna provide the necessary certainty and long-term stability that are gonna be required for the investments So it seems to me that the proposals that were put forth were neither, ah, I think you could have a smaller amount with money that was actually going towards investment in US manufacturing, or you could have a, ah, you know, it's sort of, it was a decision that was like: what can we put in here that is not gonna hurt the industry too much? So, we'll see how it ultimately shakes out But, I kinda think of it as like televisions You know, we don't make televisions here in the United States

But we have a whole industry around producing content that is very lucrative for our economy that wouldn't be here if not every home in the United States had a television So I know that's not the same because you're talking about energy infrastructure, and that's really important to our economy, but you're getting into kind of, your view on trade, generally – I would just add, I mean, for the first point is that Suniva is owned by a Hong Kong company, so all roads lead back to Rome The second point being, is that, throughout this entire process, I think probably for me, and I'm sure Zoe feels the same frustration, is Suniva and Solar World actually haven't explained how they're gonna be a profitable company They, I mean, they still have a tremendous amount of issues, even if these tariffs were in line to show that they could actually sell a product that is of high quality and would meet those price points

So, I mean, I think they still have a long road to go And to Zoe's point again is: there are people manufacturing panels here The one thing that I think does get glossed over is that it's a highly automated process I mean, it's the same as where cars are going with Tesla It is 100 percent a lot of automation

And so I think that piece gets not covered as well, and people should kind of appreciate the process of, yeah, it's great, I'm all for getting domestic manufacturing here but you know, the way that manufacturing is going, it is a lot of artificial intelligence, and even in China, they use a lot of very automated stuff And it's, the panels to me have become a commodity I mean, they really have The technology nowadays is not overly that sophisticated I tell people all the time: it's sand, some copper, and you know, some aluminum wrapped around it

So, it's, at this point, it really comes down to, you know, who, from our perspective at least, is selling a high-quality product, and then what is the price point of that? – Great, thank you both So, the next question we have from the audience is specifically for Katharine So, they wanna know what policies are in place in the northeast for offshore wind that could be adopted in the southeast – The policies that we've seen arise in the northeast are, there's actually a number of different policies Everything from, so I'll start in New York, I'm not gonna get all of these exactly correct, because I follow them fairly loosely, but you know, New York with their 50 percent renewable goal, they effectively can't get to 50 percent without the use of offshore wind

So, this is another thing that I didn't mention before in terms of offshore that I'll insert really quickly: the southeast has landmass that you just don't have in the northeast; we have much lower power prices than you do in the northeast There are a lot of factors that would incentivize those state governments to say: you know what? Offshore is gonna be a really important resource for us The other thing that it gives them is supply chain, ah, manufacturing, kind of this global business that doesn't currently exist in the US So, they're very cognizant of bringing those jobs in, but again, it makes sense for the northeast, when you look at land availability and power prices So, there are other states that have, they call them an OREC, so, it's a specific, ah, if a state has a renewable portfolio standard, like North Carolina, North Carolina has a hogway set aside, so there are states that have offshore wind set asides

When you talk about bringing that to the southeast, I think that one, the politics are very different in the southeast The southeast, in general, states don't appreciate mandates You'll hear the, there's a relatively "famous", in the utility world, commissioner from Georgia who loves to tell everybody how Georgia's got all kinds of solar with no mandates, right? It's all supply and demand And so, I think that we're fairly unlikely to see those same kinds of policy mechanisms enacted in the southeast, but like I said earlier, I am encouraged by the, you know, I'll call it a fact, but by the fact that prices, by the northeast kind of subsidizing this initial round of offshore wind, I do think that prices will come down precipitously to the point where the southeast can say: yes, this is an industry that we wanna host This is an industry that we wanna encourage, and that we will see offshore development in the southeast

It will just be a longer time frame So hopefully that answers, might not be the answer you love but I mean, all you have to do is look at policies in general in the northeast The Northeast is part of REGI, they've got tons of renewable portfolio standards, kind of across the board All kinds of state incentives for solar And other technology, so it's just a very different market

– Thanks, so we probably have time for about two more questions So another question we have from the audience is: how will the US leaving the Paris Climate Agreement affect future demand of renewable energy development in the United States? – I think zero I think every single, I mean, you've already seen it Every, you know, the city of Pittsburgh tweeting President Trump, basically saying that they're opting in You, most Fortune 500s, I think it's like 50 percent of Fortune 500s have a sustainability goal

You've seen the northeast has basically come back really hard, and you've got New York, and also in New England, in general, they're talking about doing a carbon program So I think it's, you know, to the extent that the federal government is gonna either scale back or stop the, you know, complying with the climate agreement, it seems like most of the states are going forward in lieu of that, or corporates are signing on to R100 – Great, yeah, that's great to hear, especially for students who are looking to move into the industry shortly after graduation, that this won't be a declining space to be in So, ah, another question that we have, which is potentially a fun one: what is the most exciting project that you've had a hand in, in terms of renewable development? Too many to count Or are there some that you're looking forward to in the future? – [Fred] The next one

– [Paige] The next one (laughing) That's wonderful – We're really excited to have, I mean, the reason that I stayed quiet, for the record, the reason that I stayed quiet is, you know, I'm not a developer, but you know, we're out, as an organization, and an industry, we're obviously extremely excited to see the Amazon Wind Project, up near Elizabeth City, North Carolina You know, take place It was in development for over seven years before it even started construction, and it's 208 megawatts, so it's not a small project

It's a large project, and there's an option for phase two But there's currently a wind permitting moratorium in the state that's an 18 month permitting moratorium that was enacted earlier this year And so, we have a lot of work to do to ensure that that moratorium doesn't turn into additional wind legislation, and hopefully can expire and we can continue development in this state But yeah, I think it's a, it's the first large, utility-scale project for the southeast And more to come

– I love all my children equally (laughing) – Great, well, we have just enough time for one last question, so given that this is a student-led conference, I would love for you all to share: what advice do you have for students who are looking into going into the energy industry? The renewable industry, specifically? What should we be learning about? Or if you're in the industry already, you know, what are the big trends you should be looking out for? – Oh, pick me So, here's my advice: go to Fake It School And I mean this: you do not have to know everything when you walk in the door Like, don't be afraid that you don't have the answer when you volunteer to give one

That's probably the biggest thing that I see for folks, the differentiator between those who succeed and those who do not are the ones who are willing to fake it And I say that because the other piece to that is to participate; to be a yes My entire professional career came from the fact that I said yes to serving, many moons ago, on the, what is now the State League of Conservation Voters' board And somebody asked me to do a fundraiser for the organization and I said: sure, come on! Come meet me at my house and we'll talk about how we're gonna do a fundraiser This guy drove to Winston Salem and we chatted about how I was gonna do this fundraiser for the organization and he asked me: what do you do for a living? And I said: ah, this boring thing

Low income housing tax credits You don't know anything about it And he said: tax credits? Yeah, no, I wanna know all about tax credits I've got this crazy startup solar company, and we don't know anything about how to get people to do tax credits And this was in 2007, and it was out of that conversation that I proceeded to write off 800 hours, as a young attorney, figuring out how to make energy and financing structures work and started a renewable energy practice at Blanca-Tackaberry, which was the first law firm to really have a renewable energy practice in North Carolina

Represented a bunch of solar developers like Richard, sitting in the back there, when I was willing to work for $120 an hour (laughing) And I really, I really point to that, and I can't say it enough, is like, be a yes, participate, get engaged, because you have no idea what ways that's gonna open up – [Paige] Anyone else like to share? – Great advice I would say, ah, my advice would just be: show commitment And I know they tell you this at Fuqua, showing commitment to the industry, but it's true, there are, ah, you know, there are a lot of people who wanna be involved in the renewable space, especially

And so, I think that you have to show both with your, ah, you know, discussions, your networking, your resume, that you're truly committed to the industry, right? This isn't just kind of the next best thing for you So showing commitment, however you do it, right? You do things like help, you know, you host a panel at the Duke Energy Conference You volunteer for, you know, whatever Get involved in the Energy Club, and just anything you can do to show commitment gives you a leg up – Yeah, I actually am going to double-down on Zoe's comment

I couldn't agree with her more I would actually go a step further Our HR people always yell at me for saying this, and the fact that I'm gonna say it out loud now is probably gonna make them really upset I am a, just a very strong believer in just, like, pitching yourself to people, and like, whether it's, you know, if you have a company that you really like and they're a startup and they're lean, they might not be able to pay you, like, the ability of you to show that, like, hey, I just wanna work for you, and it doesn't matter if you can pay me five bucks an hour or if we can do some sort of, especially at Fuqua I did, I know Paul's around here somewhere, but I did some sort of independent study for him, and we just came up with an idea Like, the, I think your ability to kind of come in and just keep a completely open mind, get in with a company and be like: hey, what sort of issues do you have? Like, let me kind of think through, you know, what sort of processes we, you know, we're based in Santa Monica, and from our perspective, we've started to get these UCLA MBAs coming in, and I mean, the people, two of them are working for us now and they basically knocked on our door, wouldn't leave us alone, they were hanging outside in our parking lot, and we're like: fine you can go do, like, do, look at these two things

Right? And now they're working for us, and I think that just, it shows, like you just said, it shows your level of commitment and it shows your passion for the industry, and when you have things like Suniva and the potential tax implications, things like that, life can be a little bit chaotic on our side, and so I think you kinda have to be a little bit annoying and say like, hey, I'm not leaving here until you give me something to do – Great Well, wonderful advice to end on, and please join me in thanking our panelists for being here today (applause)

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