Energy CEOs to California: You've got to make it simpler!

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By: SGN Staff

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Quick Take: A coalition of business leaders representing "advanced energy companies" is calling on the state of California to reduce the complexity of its energy programs. Known as Advanced Energy Economy, the group lauds the many incentives and pro-energy policies.

 

But the group seems to think that California's overlapping and interwoven policies are too hard to navigate. They want the state to create an integrated energy vision and action plan. They also seek programs with long-term stability, in place of programs that change year-to-year or incentives that expire after a short time.

 

Surprisingly, the group did not mention the morass of renewables mandates that seems to be driving California towards a grid crisis. Nor did it complain about the high, high California taxes, which have recently caused notable businesses and individuals to leave the state.

 

This issue is worth watching. So many of our smart grid and cleantech innovations have come from California that it is important to know whether it will continue to lead the way. - Jesse Berst

 

A group of energy company CEOs commend California for energy policies that have positioned the state at "the cutting edge of advanced energy development and innovation," but they also warn that the complexities of those policies and the accompanying bureaucracy are putting the economic and environmental benefits of advanced energy at risk.

 

Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), an energy industry advocacy group, surveyed 30 CEOs from advanced energy companies in California and others that have a strong presence there. The outcome is a report that offers their opinions of state energy policies and recommendations to stimulate advanced energy growth.

Advanced Energy CEOs See Opportunities, Obstacles in Fulfilling California's Nation-Leading Policies

Executives Praise State's Commitment to Advanced Energy, Recommend Strategies to Accelerate Growth and Economic Benefits

SAN FRANCISCO, March 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Advanced energy CEOs believe that California's energy policies have put the state on the cutting edge of advanced energy development and innovation, but a variety of obstacles are preventing the state from fully reaping the economic and environmental benefits of advanced energy, according to a new report released today by Advanced Energy Economy.

Based on a series of interviews with 30 CEOs and other senior executives of advanced energy companies located in California or doing significant business in the state, the report presents corporate leaders' perceptions of the state's energy policies and recommendations for actions to accelerate the growth of an advanced energy economy in California. AEE estimates that there are well over 1,800 advanced energy companies located in California.

"California is widely recognized as a global leader in encouraging advanced energy growth," said Graham Richard , CEO of Advanced Energy Economy. "But the sheer number of policies, agencies and programs designed to support advanced energy development make it difficult for companies to navigate. This report offers a series of recommendations from California's business leaders that can accelerate advanced energy success. This will unleash great economic and environmental benefits for California."

The business leaders interviewed in the report commend the state for its willingness to adopt nation-leading policies in vehicle fuel standards, alternative vehicles and the infrastructure to support them; creating markets for renewable energy resources; promoting energy efficiency, through advanced building codes, appliance efficiency standards and utility programs; supporting investment in smart grid, transmission, and on-site generation technologies; and funding advanced energy research and development (R&D). Adoption of a multi-sector cap on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, known as AB 32, has in particular put California on the cutting edge of policies whose objectives can be achieved by advanced energy development, investment, and deployment. The CEOs also acknowledge the state's many assets for unleashing private investment, including the investment community of Silicon Valley, a highly trained labor force, and a culture of innovation.

These strengths are offset, however, by a complexity of agencies, policies, and programs that make it challenging for companies to navigate their way to business opportunities. In addition, these companies run into obstacles that make it difficult to establish manufacturing operations in the state, and to develop large advanced energy projects. These CEOs also say it is essential that California's policies and the programs that flow from them be managed in a way that avoids waste and inefficiency that could result in a backlash against California's advanced energy leadership.

Advanced energy executives recommend several measures that would improve the business climate for advanced energy in California:

·         California should articulate an integrated vision and action plan in support of an advanced energy economy to help guide, coordinate and prioritize agencies' actions, and to provide greater accountability for successful implementation of the state's policies.

·         California should strive to establish the stability and predictability businesses and investors need to pursue innovation. Programs that change year to year and incentives that expire after a short period of time (or get renewed on a short-term basis) are not conducive to investment and business development. California should maintain a commitment to energy policy solutions with longer-term, stable trajectories.

·         California should foster innovation and competition by avoiding programs that pick technology winners. Competition spurs innovation and drives down cost in meeting policy goals. California should structure programs to encourage the private sector to bring innovative technologies to the market that meet desired energy and/or environmental performance standards rather than prescribe specific technologies.

·         The Governor should appoint and empower an advanced energy business ombudsman, to assist advanced energy companies in navigating the policies, programs, and requirements intended to promote advanced energy growth and adoption.

·         California should use funding from the AB 32 revenues to fill gaps in private sector funding of advanced energy technologies and companies, especially for smaller early-stage companies, and for developers of pre-commercial technologies that need assistance in demonstration and scale-up.

·         California should reform the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to streamline the state's environmental review process and prevent abuse. Advanced energy projects could be completed faster and at lower cost if compliance with CEQA were more straightforward and if the law were less easily used by opponents to obstruct worthy projects.

"California has always been at the vanguard of smart energy and environmental policies," said Lauren Casentini , president of Resource Solutions Group. "We were honored to participate in this important examination of how the state's policies are effecting businesses across California. We believe that advanced energy businesses across California are crucial to keep the state's economy moving forward and look forward to working with policymakers to ensure that progress."

"We see that Californians, when given the chance, will choose sustainable, domestic fuel sources that align more with their values," said Matt Horton , CEO of Propel Fuels. "To this end, we support efforts to provide funding for infrastructure that expand access to all types of advanced energy across California, especially in development stages where private investment hasn't been active in recent years."

The study, titled "California's Advanced Energy Economy: Advanced Energy Business Leaders' Perspectives and Recommendations on California's Energy Policies," was published by the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, AEE's educational and charitable affiliate, and conducted by Analysis Group, a leading research consultancy. For a full copy of the report, please visit http://www.aee.net/california.

"Our team is proud to gather the perspectives of California's advanced energy CEOs in this report for AEE," said Paul Hibbard , Vice President, Analysis Group. "Feedback from business leaders is critical because the markets for these companies' technologies, products and services are driven by the state's energy and environmental policies. Private enterprise will determine to a large degree the success or failure of these policies for California's economy and its residents."

AEE defines advanced energy as a broad industry category incorporating many discrete technologies and business types that contribute to making energy secure, clean, and affordable. The advanced energy industry consists of seven distinct market segments associated with energy demand (Transportation, Buildings and Industry) and energy supply (Fuel Production, Fuel Delivery, Electricity Generation, and Electricity Delivery and Management). These segments are divided into 41 subsegments, ranging from Vehicle Design and Materials and Freight Logistics in Transportation to Advanced Metering Infrastructure and Energy Storage in Electricity Delivery and Management. Electricity Generation includes Hydropower, Gas Turbines, Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Marine, Waste, Biomass, Nuclear, and Other Distributed Generation.

Advanced energy was a $1.1 trillion global market in 2011, larger than pharmaceutical manufacturing worldwide, according to a January 2013 report released by AEE and produced by Pike Research. This first-ever analysis of the advanced energy sector also shows that the market in the U.S. represents a significant part of the nation's economy, with $132 billion in revenue in 2011, and a 19 percent growth rate estimated for 2012, with U.S. revenue rising to $157 billion.

For a full copy of AEE's January 2013 report and other information on advanced energy, please visit http://AdvancedEnergyNOW.net.

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