What’s in Store for the Energy Industry in 2021?

Posted February 11, 2021

To jump-start the economy in 2021, the Biden administration will rededicate the federal government to fighting climate change and make unprecedented investments in clean energy and electric vehicles (EVs) and EV infrastructure. In this month’s blog, we share our thoughts on what’s to come. We will also provide insights from our experience advancing climate goals on the state and local level and supporting transportation electrification.

This blog was inspired by our January podcast with ILLUME Founders Anne Dougherty and Sara Conzemius. Want to catch the podcast in its entirety? Click here to listen to The Road Ahead.

Science is back

The Biden administration brings back evidence-based policy tapping Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm, to lead the Department of Energy, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor, Pete Buttigieg, to lead the Department of Transportation, and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary, Michael Regan, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. This administration recognizes the impact that climate change has on public health, national security, and the economy; local governments will have a renewed partner in Washington ready to center climate, jobs, and equity in our product, program, and policy development.

Cities and states are new clean energy leaders primed for federal support

When the previous administration backed away from conversations around climate, states like California, New York, Georgia, Illinois, and many others stepped forward or doubled down on efforts to decarbonize. ILLUME’s Sara Conzemius, who chaired the Energy Efficiency Working Group for the Dane County Climate Task Force, saw this progress firsthand. The county rolled out its 2020 Climate Action Plan even as the pandemic put hard-fought gains at risk in states, counties, and cities strapped for cash. Now is the time for the federal government to leverage the increased capacity at the local level while being careful not to supplant their efforts.

Coalitions will drive our industry forward

In partnership with E3, ILLUME supported a statewide planning process in Arizona, setting the table for Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power to engage with more than 500 stakeholders to envision the state’s roadmap for transportation electrification.

Like the vast Arizona landscape, developing corridors to effectively charge personal vehicles and fleet options is no small task. Drawing on the diverse perspectives and vantage points of cities, counties, action agencies, and advocates, we asked and answered questions like, “how do we get these technologies to market as fast as possible and as equitably as possible?” Partnerships and coalitions of stakeholders will be required for ambitious electrification initiatives.

A clean energy economy can create jobs for America’s diverse needs

ILLUME kicked off 2021 supporting our clients on workforce development projects by researching ways clean energy can create jobs to support historically disadvantaged communities. We will be watching closely to see how federal agencies (e.g., energy and transportation) can find synergies through clean energy policy, transportation electrification, and federal procurement to revive state and local economies. We will look to Congress for bipartisanship to make infrastructure investments in renewables and energy efficiency.

To reduce environmental impacts while expanding job opportunities to everyone, our industry needs to work with (and within) communities while diversifying ourselves. Having diverse teams who will question our choices and assumptions can help us accomplish these dual goals.

At ILLUME, we value a safe and healthy environment and we have always aligned with clean energy and social justice imperatives so that all can thrive, irrespective of their background, race, or ethnicity. As our federal government reasserts the urgency of our climate challenges, it is up to us to get the human side of the equation right so we can make this happen.