U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, Carol Browner, and Jon Wellinghoff headlined ACOREâEUR(TM)s 2009 National Renewable Energy Policy Conference on Capitol HillWashington, DC âEUR" November 23, 2009 âEUR" The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) convened renewable energy experts from across the nation on Capitol Hill for the day-long Phase II Policy Forum on Renewable Energy in America on Friday, November 20, 2009.
The Phase II forum centered around the state of renewable energy and its policy environment. Participants agreed that, with much private investment for renewable energy still waiting on the sidelines, the United States is losing a critical economic opportunity to Europe and China as it delays action on carbon regulation and new energy legislation like a national renewable energy standard or establishing a Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA).
U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Carol Browner, Advisor to the President for Energy and Climate Change, opened the day with keynote presentations and were accompanied by a vaunted host of experts throughout the day in the historic Canon Caucus Room.
Senator Bingaman gave a comprehensive dissertation on the needed federal energy and climate policy. Browner said that the U.S. will not enter into a binding international climate agreement at the COP-15 meeting in Copenhagen in December, but âEURoewe will then spend the course of the next six to twelve months finalizing a binding international agreement.âEUR
Browner went on to say that we are âEURoefinally starting to rebuild the clean energy industryâEUR in the United States.
âEURoeIf renewable energy were the World Series, the United States would have been ahead by a score of 10-1,âEUR said Steen Rissgaard, CEO, Novozymes A/S, a Danish biofuels company. âEURoeHowever, the U.S. has lost that momentum to other parts of the world, and theyâEUR(TM)ll have to take action now to return to their position as a world leader.âEUR
Hermann Scheer, member of the German Bundestag and a pioneering leader of renewable energy policy in Europe, said: âEURoeWe must act now. We must do what we can do, now.âEUR The conference enjoyed a stirring moment when Congressmen Edward Markey (D-MA) of the U.S. and Scheer of Germany appeared together to a standing ovation.
Representatives from the financial community discussed moving the industry beyond stimulus with programs like the recently proposed CEDA or a âEURoeGreen BankâEUR which would work as a true public/private partnership in a similar fashion to the Oversees Private Investment Corporation that absorbs non-commercial risks, and could greatly accelerate private investment. Participants also said that $30 billion to $50 billion of capital will be needed to scale up to 20% renewables by 2020 and that this scale of funds will require Wall Street and the government finding ways of working together.
âEURoeRecently there has been a healthy maturation of venture capital backed innovation companies, but we now face the challenge of scaling them with more traditional asset finance,âEUR said Jeff Holzschuh, Vice Chairman, Morgan Stanley, Investment Banking Division. âEURoeThe government can greatly accelerate this transition by enacting a long term strategy with proper risk sharing and financial support.âEUR
There was a clear sense of impatience among the finance speakers. Kevin Parker, Head of Asset Management at Deutsche Bank, said âEURoein Europe they get it and are competing to exceed best practices, while in the U.S. the banks are looking to do as little as possible to get by. These are two different worlds. America needs to wake up and get moving, or it will be left more behind.âEUR
Members of the renewable energy industry offered first-hand accounts of the risk complexities and intensive capital requirements needed to launch and establish successful renewable energy companies and projects; and they agreed that the national benefits are just too high for officials to ignore.
âEURoeThe Obama Administration has advanced several polices that have been helpful for developing and creating a range of alternative energies and jobs in the short term,âEUR said John Graham, President, BP Wind Energy. âEURoeBut a more stable, long term policy framework is needed in order to achieve a 25% renewable energy supply by 2025.âEUR
Some experts say that there are opportunities to impact the economy in the shorter term. âEURoeWe believe that dealing with climate change and renewable energy represents nothing less than the next Industrial Revolution,âEUR said Leo Gerard, President, United Steelworkers Union. âEURoeWith the passage of a national renewable energy standard and climate legislation, we can put the American worker at the front of the line.âEUR
âEURoeRenewable energy investment continues to be driven by federal policy,âEUR said Michael Eckhart, President, ACORE. âEURoeThe Phase II conference is a call to the President and Congress that American companies and investors are ready to respond once the rules of the road are established.âEUR He added âEURoegovernments in Germany, China and other countries are directly supporting the development of successful renewable energy industries, and our country must respond to this challenge.âEUR
Phase II of Renewable Energy in America National Policy Forum was first held in 2002. The goal of the conference is to bring together high-level officials, executives, and thought leaders to discuss the energy policy issues concerning renewable energy development, government funding, private investment, pending legislation and AmericaâEUR(TM)s renewable energy position internationally.
Other speakers included Dan Reicher, Director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives, Google; Cathy Zoi, Assistant Secretary, DOE EERE; David Crane, CEO, NRG; Alex Urquhart, President & CEO, GE Energy Financial Services; David Sandalow, Assistant Secretary, DOE Policy & International Affairs; Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman, FERC; and His Excellency Friis Arne Petersen, Ambassador, Embassy of Denmark.
Dennis McGinn, Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (retired) stated that âEURoethis is a national security issue.âEUR The closing panel concurred with a call to end the status quo.