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POLICY: Business group hopes to head off state attacks on 'advanced energy'

Posted by Industry News on Feb 19, 2014

Rod Kuckro, E&E reporter

Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A fledgling group of business leaders associated with the development of advanced energy technologies hopes to persuade policymakers -- especially at the state and local level -- to avoid doing harm to a U.S. industry that in 2013 had revenues of $169 billion, equal to the airline industry or the plastics and rubber manufacturing sector.

The 2-year-old group, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), believes "there needs to be a strong prosperity agenda talking about the economic impact and growth potential of advanced energy," said Graham Richard, chief executive officer of the group.

The group is issuing its first report today on the market size by revenue of the advanced energy industry worldwide and in the United States, broadly defined as a range of technologies, productsand services available for meeting energy needs today and in the future, the report's executive summary said. Examples include electric and plug-in hybrid cars, natural-gas-fueled trucks, high-performance buildings, energy-saving industrial processes, high-capacity wind turbines, on-site and utility-scale solar power, and advanced nuclear power plants.

"We want to make sure that there's an understanding by those policymakers at the state level, the federal level and the local level of the importance of this as a growth industry," Richard, a former Indiana lawmaker and mayor of Fort Wayne, said in an interview. In previous conversations, "they didn't get the significance of global opportunity for both investment and economic growth," he added. "The business voice has not been as robust and engaged as we feel it should be."

AEE members include Verizon, SolarCity, Silver Spring Networks, Johns Manville, Landis+Gyr and Opower.

Counterbalance to efforts by ALEC?

Whether intentional or not, AEE's mission, which Richard repeatedly described in terms of prosperity and job preservation, is a challenge to robust efforts by the American Legislative Exchange Council to repeal state laws that the conservative group believes interfere with market forces by favoring some energy technologies over others. ALEC is an organization of state lawmakers funded by corporate and nonprofit interests.

"We are involved in protecting and keeping policies that we believe give us a fair and level playing field such as protecting the renewable portfolio standards in states, protecting energy conservation initiatives," Richard said, noting that AEE tracked more than 3,000 pieces of legislation.

Unlike the decades-old airline industry, the value of which is easy for lawmakers to understand, "the value of policy is and its impact for promoting advanced energy is not understood," Richard said.

He cited AEE's successful efforts in 2013 in Ohio and North Carolina, where legislation was pending to do away with renewable portfolio standards or weaken energy efficiency standards. The group provided "market-based data and information that helped them to come to the conclusion that changing the rules in midstream was a bad idea and that there ought to be more opportunityand competition within the electric power sector. It's not so much about ALEC as it is about a robust industry that deserves to have appropriate policy considerations to at least have a level playing field," if not incentives, he said.

Global market hit $1.13 trillion in 2013

The "Advanced Energy Now 2014 Market Report," prepared by Navigant Research, found the 2013 market had revenue of $1.13 trillion across seven industry sectors, an increase of 7 percent compared with 2012.

For the United Sates, which makes up 15 percent of the global advanced energy market, 2013 revenue was $168.9 billion versus $170.2 billion in 2012. The nearly steady results reflect growth in most areas except for wind energy, where investment was down $23 billion because of uncertainty about the extension of the production tax credit.

Reprinted from EnergyWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC.