03-19-2013  2013 Access DC – Los Angeles on the Hill

2013 Access DC – Los Angeles on the Hill

[Gaia's Ryan McEvoy and Annie Argento participated at this year's Access DC delegation with fellow members of the LA Business Council's committee on Energy and the Environment. Access DC is an annual opportunity for Los Angeles public policy initiatives to be taken to the Hill to gain national support and to exchange new ideas with colleagues.]

Earlier this month, Ryan and I joined a delegation of 150 business leaders and public officials for Access DC, the LA Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual trip to advocate for greater federal investment in LA. This year the delegates were divided into teams focused on immigration reform, regional transportation, healthcare, housing and homelessness, water, and energy and environmental sustainability. We of course were part of the latter!
It was a packed 3-days in DC where we were also fortunate to squeeze in meetings with our friends and colleagues at USGBC to learn more about LEED v.4 and their local and national advocacy campaigns. We were happy to learn of the good work USGBC is doing to advocate for a reform of section 179d as our experience has been that this federal tax deduction is cumbersome and not as straightforward as it should be. Because of this, many of Gaia’s commercial building owners have not benefited from the deduction and therefore have not been incentivized to make greater investments in energy efficiency.
Armed with this information, we found ourselves discussing 179d in many meetings including one with US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) chairman of the US Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources and another with Phil Barnett, Staff Director, House Energy & Commerce Committee, but the official policy calls for our group were the following:
Renewable Energy

  • Extension of existing energy tax incentives over a ten-year period and the production tax credit for an additional year
  • Extend the Solar Tax Credit beyond 2016 to allow homeowners to claim a credit for 30% of installation costs for solar systems in their homes
  • Update to Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions’ Rule 207 to allow fast track interconnection of solar generation projects 20 megawatts or less without the imposition of costly and lengthy studies.

Energy Efficiency & Green Building

  • PACE Financing for energy-efficiency installation
  • Investor Confidence Project (ICP) to standardize the process used to evaluate energy efficiency projects


Energy efficiency improvements, especially to existing buildings and homes, is critical to reducing reliance on fossil fuels, reducing carbon emissions, and creating green jobs. It’s also key in meeting renewable portfolio standards – it’s simple: use less and you don’t have to generate as much!

We know policy changes don’t happen overnight, and certainly not in today’s political climate and economy, but nonetheless we were thrilled to be part of this delegation – not only to advocate for Southern California, but it was an opportunity to showcase the Golden State’s environmental leadership and Los Angeles’ Feed-in-Tariff (FiT).
Below are some other random highlights, fun (or not so fun) facts, and lessons learned from the trip:

  • Don’t you dare say, “Climate Change” or “Global Warming.”  Rather use terms like “energy efficiency” and “low carbon economy” to avoid a door being shut in your face!
  • There are long security lines at the senate office buildings due to sequestration, but the real impacts that will be felt in California include $87.6 million cut in funding for primary and secondary education; 15,810 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, whooping cough, influenza and Hepatitis B; and approximately 2000 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to the childcare needed to keep their parents employed. Not sustainable.
  • It’s no surprise that LA needs more open space, and the LA River Revitalization Corporation is working hard to create this! There were a handful of Angelenos out in DC advocating for prioritization and completion of the US Army Corps of Engineers LA River Ecosystem Restoration Study and for appropriation of funds for a demonstration project. We’re looking forward to following and supporting the good work they are doing to revitalize the city’s most underutilized public resource. Check out their first Kickstarter campaign, help them reach their goal and we’ll see you at the movies:

By Annie Argento, Associate Principal