) -- The "National Energy Summit" sponsored by the committee on competitiveness with the exclusive media support of
will convene Wednesday in Washington.
This "summit," which is actually more like a symposium, bears some watching as it may portend the direction of national energy policy to come.
The summit represents a culmination of a number of smaller conferences that have taken place in the last year and a half, bringing together CEOs, educators, engineers, labor leaders and government representatives. The aim is to create an integrated plan to develop, manufacture and support sustainable energy in the United States.
Participants for this final conference are very impressive and include the CEOs from
Royal Dutch Shell
and others. Eight U.S. senators, both Republican and Democratic, are honorary committee members and the secretary of energy and secretary of transportation will also be in attendance and speaking.
What is clear is that if the Obama administration ever is prepared to move in a bold way towards turning its campaign promises on green energy into real policy, these guys at compete.org will have a lot of influence on what that policy and initiatives will look like.
The council has already released several papers documenting recommendations for the president, should he want to move forward. Two of these recommendations are pretty bold in their scope:
One, the committee recommends a $200-billion "National Clean Energy Bank" to deliver low- to no- cost loans to develop sustainable energy technologies and companies.
Two, the committee is recommending a national initiative by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to push through a national "smart-grid" infrastructure.
The major question is whether the Obama administration will have the will and political capital to undertake a massive new energy policy shift, after spending and continuing to spend much of their efforts on economic stimulus, regulation of the financial markets and health care reform.
One imagines a bold, new energy plan to be very low on the very crowded priority list of this overworked president, but you never know. The Obama administration seems to be pleased to take on more and more new and controversial ideas.
And as bold as the recommendations of the Energy Security, Innovation and Sustainability panel of the council on competitiveness might be, it all hinges entirely upon the ultimate support of the federal government.
That's because much of what is being recommended by the committee is infrastructure -- which are historically cost prohibitive and do not lead to immediate and tangible profits, making them difficult for private capital to undertake.
This is clearly the case with the smart grid, a ready technology to streamline and make much more efficient the transport and distribution of electricity in the country.
Obviously this also would be true for whatever "bank," incentives or tax breaks might need to be associated with development and manufacture of sustainable energy.
But it is also clear that the United States has fallen behind in competitiveness in green energy technologies, to Germany and Europe in general but particularly to China, where government support and subsidies have sent much of the worldwide solar panel manufacturing business there.
This is what the council seeks to change and the outcome from this summit bears watching, not only for energy policy but also for investment opportunity.
If some of these policies were to be undertaken by the administration, the obvious beneficiaries would be companies ready with sustainable technologies -- mostly start-up companies, but large investors in fuel cells and smart grid technologies like
This "summit," therefore, will be worth following. The participants read like a "who's who" in business and government and will certainly impact whatever initiatives are undertaken by the administration in creating a coherent energy policy.
What we need is a coherent energy policy instead of what has been too often the case, policy cobbled together from various constituency and partisan inspired bills.
Written by Daniel Dicker in New York.
At the time of publication, Dicker held positions in General Electric, Applied Materials and United Technologies.
Dan Dicker has been a floor trader at the New York Mercantile Exchange with more than 20 years' experience. He is a licensed commodities trade adviser. Dan's recognized energy market expertise includes active trading in crude oil, natural gas, unleaded gasoline and heating oil futures contracts; fundamental analysis including supply and demand statistics (DOE, EIA), CFTC trade reportage, volume and open interest; technical analysis including trend analysis, stochastics, Bollinger Bands, Elliot Wave theory, bar and tick charting and Japanese candlesticks; and trading expertise in outright, intermarket and intramarket spreads and cracks.
Dan also designed and supervised the introduction of the new Nymex PJM electricity futures contract, launched in April 2003, which cleared more than 600,000 contracts last year alone. Its launch has been the basis of Nymex's resurgence in the clearing of power market contracts over the last three years.
Dan Dicker has appeared as an energy analyst since 2002 with all the major financial news networks. He has lent his expertise in hundreds of live radio and television broadcasts as an analyst of the oil markets on CNBC, Bloomberg US and UK and CNNfn. Dan is the author of many energy articles published in Nymex and other trade journals.
Dan obtained a bachelor of arts degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1982.