TREIA Board of Directors
Returning Board Member Chris Reeder: Focused On The Critically Important Policy and Regulatory Details
By Peter Kelly-Detwiler - Storyteller in Residence
Many at TREIA will already know Chris Reeder, from his detailed and highly appreciated regulatory and policy updates at the annual GridNEXT event. A Senior Partner in the energy and natural resources unit at the law firm Husch Blackwell, Reeder is the perfect person to present that information. He and his team are immersed daily in the critical policy, regulatory, and legal details that can make or break renewable projects or affect a proposed M&A deal.
Last month, Reeder agreed to serve another two-year term on the TREIA board, where he has played a unique role, bringing his legal and regulatory expertise to the conversation and complementing the perspectives of other board members with different backgrounds.
Texas Electricity Market At A Crossroads
Reeder is bullish on the current Texas energy scene, and is particularly enthusiastic about the strong gains being made by the budding Texas solar industry. Rapid progress is being made, he says, evolving quickly from “people dipping toes in water to earnest and fervent pursuit of specific projects…It’s becoming clear that it’s possible to realize adequate returns from solar projects of many different varieties, not just utility scale but along the continuum of size.”
He also sees battery storage ramping up quickly to support renewable resources, with a relatively large amount of energy storage already lined up in the ERCOT interconnection queue. He comments that the number of projects is already at a level that’s surprising to many observers. Reeder expresses optimism that the storage technology and applications will make significant gains on the ground, as he expects the legislature and PUC to soon adopt rules governing and clarifying the various aspects of energy storage deployment.
All of these inter-related developments will both help to nurture and respond to the inevitable continued shift away from dependence on coal generation. In place of coal, Reeder expects to see a growing mixture of renewables and other smaller scale relatively clean gas applications, as well as increased levels of demand response, microgrids, and distributed generation.
In his view, Texas has arrived at a critical energy crossroads, where its future electricity generation portfolio will reflect “the inexorable result of moving away from a utility mindset in our generation and resource mix, and towards a much more flexible and customer-oriented“ approach. Consequently, he expects to see a rapid expansion of renewables and smaller-scale distributed resources that are both “more nimble and open to broader involvement and investment than just investment funds and highly capitalized developers.”
Key regulatory Issues
In order for this to happen, though, Reeder comments that the right policy and regulatory approaches will be vital. In a presentation he gave at TREIA’s December annual meeting, he highlighted many of the key legislative issues to watch. These include local tax abatements and property tax reform, market rules, regulations related to siting of new generation assets, and a growing focus on cybersecurity. Reeder also expresses some concern about a growing effort on the part of some conservative organizations taking aim at various renewable energy policies and support mechanisms, and he urges TREIA members to carefully pay attention to these evolving conversations.
The Benefits of Joining TREIA
Reeder enumerates the benefits of Husch Blackwell being engaged with TREIA and its members, since “it gives us an ability to learn their stories, developments, ideas and proposals that we might not otherwise know about…Through TREIA we have a good opportunity to interact with a group that represents, or is involved, in about every area of renewable energy in Texas.”
In order to serve his clients well, he observes, it’s vitally important to remain up to date with various activities taking place across the Texas energy landscape, “so we really put a premium on learning the latest developments within all aspects of the energy field in which we advise clients.”
Going forward, Reeder comments that he would like to see TREIA serve as the preeminent authority on renewable energy in Texas, not necessarily as an advocate or lobbyist, but as a prominent voice and the “leading clearinghouse on renewable energy information, speaking to Texans about renewable energy in Texas.”