Unleashing the Potential for Economic Growth: Promoting Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Exports

December 8, 2010

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Julius Svoboda is an International Trade Specialist in the Office of Energy and Environmental Industries at the International Trade Administration and works on industrial energy efficiency issues. Specifically, he coordinates the Energy Efficiency Initiative, a program that supports U.S. exporters of energy efficiency products.

Yesterday 24 of the 28 members of the newly appointed and created Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee met for the first time to discuss the state of this key sector, hash out their priorities for moving the needle forward to exact change, and make meaningful and productive recommendations to Gary Locke, the Secretary of Commerce.

The committee came about as a result of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative. The Initiative was developed through the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Working Group on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, which includes representatives from the Departments of Commerce, Energy, State, and Agriculture, as well as the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Although many of the Committee members  are serving as advisors to form policy and practical recommendations for the first time, the thoughtfulness and intelligent discussions during the course of the meeting was evidence that they taking the responsibility of their appointment very seriously. That this Committee wants to have a measurable and constructive impact is clear, and their remarks impressed that upon policymakers like Secretary Locke that the industry needs to be given greater priority across the administration.

One message heard again and again during the meeting was a viable and robust domestic market here will help promote exports of U.S. goods and services. Growth markets want to see the technology in operation, and companies can’t sell abroad what won’t be bought at home. Leading by example will sell the products and services themselves—but the U.S. government needs to support renewable energy and energy efficiency research, development and adoption in the U.S.

The membership asked the Secretary for suggestions on the types of recommendations that he felt would be most constructive. The Secretary’s answer was clear: “attach a metric to recommendations so that government can see how we are improving,” he said “if we’re doing C work, we need to know that, and if we’re doing A work we need to know that too.”  Being able to measure the impact of policy will go a long way to knowing the best way to support the industry.

Representatives from the Departments of State and Energy, OPIC, Trade Development Agency, Ex-Im, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office all participated and briefed the committee members on activities within their organizations relating to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The committee elected Karl Gawell, Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association to serve as their chairman and Tom Wirec Vice President of Membership & Corporate Relations of American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) to serve as vice chair.

As the committee continues to meet, I am looking forward to their discussions and recommendations and how that will all have an impact on the future of this industry.