Cap-and-Trade May Be Wounded, But The Low Carbon Economy is Still Healthy


Some 61 percent of California voters this week showed they still believe in the economic promise of clean energy. Californians rejected Proposition 23 that would have rolled back policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions and develop clean energy.

Their vote of confidence reminds us that even though comprehensive federal climate legislation may be off the table today in Washington D.C., the business and economic development opportunities of a low carbon future remain.

Several hundred leaders from business and finance, government, utilities, research and education, clean energy advocates and nonprofits are gathering to talk about emerging ideas in the energy sector next week at Convention Place in Seattle for the Washington State Future Energy Conference and our second annual State Energy Summit.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and British Columbia Minister of State for Climate Action John Yap are among the scheduled presenters over three days.

The transition to a low carbon economy is a worldwide opportunity. Global markets are moving from dependence on carbon-based fuels to a mix of renewable sources—solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, biomass and tidal energy. Transportation and energy transmission infrastructure is evolving and becoming more intelligent. Homes and buildings are being designed and built to be more efficient and sustainable. Mass market electric vehicles are coming to the U.S.

We saw it on the Governor’s recent trade mission to China, where wind and solar energy are taking hold. According to a 2009 Pew research study, China invested $34.6 billion in clean energy—twice as much as the U.S. They’ve dedicated over $200 billion in government stimulus to renewable energy and related investments.

The Governor is in Germany today to help celebrate the opening of the BMW-SGL plant, where carbon fiber produced in Moses Lake will go into BMW’s revolutionary Megacity electric car. Throughout the world, new technology and development are pouring into clean energy and sustainable growth.

Our state is better positioned than most to take advantage of the “greening” global economy to drive new investment and statewide job growth. Building a foundation to secure those economic opportunities requires a holistic view and a comprehensive state energy strategy. We need to work together to resolve complex market issues and often conflicting values and demands on our future public and private energy systems.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided a significant boost, rewarding Washington with $2.6 billion from the Department of Energy for more than 170 projects in energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric grid, transportation, science and innovation, and another $211 million for broadband and more than $20 million for green jobs training.

The State Energy Summit provides a valuable forum for leadership collaboration on how we move forward. We’ll review the $2.6 billion in Recovery Act investments that have been made and continue to flow into the state and begin to map out where we go from here.

What’s needed to attract private capital and drive additional investment and entrepreneurship? How do our shared goals on protecting and preserving the environment align with the need to streamline and improve regulatory processes for new clean energy businesses? What are the incentives that will drive development of renewable energy generation capacity without losing our competitive advantage on energy pricing? Where are the prime international markets for Washington companies to export clean energy technology, products and services.

The Clean Energy Leadership Council is addressing these and more key questions, preparing a set of recommendations that link our economic development imperatives with a comprehensive energy strategy from the State Energy Strategy Advisory Committee.

Opportunities to prosper in the global low carbon economy are here. Our ability to forge partnerships—academics, entrepreneurs, industry leaders, governments and public policy makers—to deliver substantial investment and rapid innovation will be key to growing businesses and jobs in Washington state’s clean energy future.

Rogers Weed is the Director of the Washington State Department of Commerce and also co-chairs the Clean Energy Leadership Council and State Energy Strategy initiative. Follow @

Trending on Xconomy

By posting a comment, you agree to our terms and conditions.

2 responses to “Cap-and-Trade May Be Wounded, But The Low Carbon Economy is Still Healthy”

  1. T. Luxer says:

    California in in denial! California has the most generous/expensive “green” subsidy program in America with State subsidies for solar and wind nearly matching the federal subsidies. The problem is – California can not afford to continue with this! I lived in California for 5 years. Something in the water has made the folks out there wacky. To reference this state as a positive example for anything is hilarious! Its the state that gave us Arnold, Barbara Boxer, Maxine Waters and Nancy Pilossi and soon to be back in power is Jerry Brown. State income tax is 10% and state sales tax is another 10% in most areas and yet the state is still running massive annual budget deficits. California in in denial and it ain’t denial dats in Egypt!!!!!!!

    Also, when you reference Germany, realize that Germany is very different from the USA. Germany has no fossil fuels left. Conservation for purely economic reasons should be Germany’s goal. But, the backbone of the German economy still runs on Coal imported from Africa and the USA. Germany should be embracing nuclear power, but it isn’t.

  2. Alex White says:

    We should reward innovation, instead of trying to tax the bad guys, like coal. The government should provide prize money or $.02-$.04 per kWh for clean electric energy.

    Most of DOE’s “investments” and the 2% of the $1 trillion “stimulus” went to silly tried-and-untrue development deals. Wind and solar are not yet affordable.

    I like this group in SF – , they have “breakthroughs,” not just another unprofitable wind or solar deal. Look at their video, it’s Idea number 3.

    America better get smarter. We need innovations, not new laws.