Green New Deal Could Help an Industry Once Leery of Renewables

(Bloomberg) -- An industry that didn’t exactly champion the rise of renewables may be a surprising beneficiary of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal: utilities.

The plan pressed by the freshman congresswoman from the Bronx aims to rid America’s power grids of carbon emissions. That could help speed up existing trends in the sector, including coal retirements and the increasing deployment of renewables, CreditSights Inc. analysts wrote in a note Friday.

Utilities including Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy and NextEra Energy Inc. are increasingly looking to own wind and solar assets that are now among the cheapest electrical sources. That’s a stark change from the early days of renewables, when expensive projects were mandated by several states, and many utilities were reluctant to buy their production.

Ownership of wind and solar farms is “great for utility credit quality” because it allows these companies to earn a fixed return on the assets, according to the analysts led by Andy DeVries.

The Green New Deal’s promotion of electric vehicles is another perk for utilities, DeVries wrote, because “increased EV ownership leads to obviously higher electric deliveries and related investment in the grid.”

There could be a drawback as well for utilities if subsidies for homeowners with residential solar are revived. Utilities have “had significant success lowering the price” that homeowners got for selling rooftop power to the grid, according to the CreditSights note.

The Green New Deal itself is facing an uphill push in Congress. Not all Democrats are on board with the entirety of the ambitious plan, and some analysts say its breadth has made it an easy target for political opponents.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.