Tunheim and Business Forward convened a Business Leader Briefing on U.S. Energy Policy featuring David Danielson, assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

During the Wednesday morning meeting, held at the Minneapolis Club, Danielson and local business and public affairs leaders discussed how the Department of Energy and federal government can better partner with the private sector to ensure innovation and U.S. competitiveness in our global marketplace.

Danielson talked about the public-private innovations already occurring in our 17 National Laboratories, including breakthroughs on battery storage, materials management and energy conservation. He stressed the importance of organizations taking advantage of and accessing programs through the labs and other governmental programs, which he found are underutilized.

Nicholas Franco, U.S. Energy Services

Left, Nicholas Franco of U.S. Energy Services chats energy policy with David Danielson, assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy in Minneapolis.

The informal meeting also allowed business leaders the opportunity to ask questions and provide advice on how the Department of Energy can best support business efforts to bring new energy technologies to market, implement the Clean Power Plan, and tackle other sustainability measures. Topics of discussion ranged from President Barack Obama’s aggressive goals, to renewable energy innovation and grid modernization, to product advances, to local, state and federal regulations regarding energy efficiency.

One common thread emerged during the discussion: The necessity to have all of the “right stakeholders” engaged around the table to make decisions that will have a sustainable impact in addressing our nation’s climate action goals.

Danielson heard first-hand the need to listen to business leaders when making policy decisions. For example, compared to other states, Minnesota and its businesses have led efforts to curb carbon emissions through inventive partnerships, like a transmission power line that is powered by hydroelectricity sourced out of state.

Leaders addressed the need for the federal government, including the Department of Energy and the EPA, to implement proposed rules that acknowledge states and organizations that are ahead of the curve in cutting carbon emissions, such as Minnesota.

Attendees included: Deb Amberg, general counsel and secretary of Allete, Inc; Margaret Anderson Kelliher, president of Minnesota High Technology Association; Cecile Bedor, executive vice president of Greater MSP; Jim Block, director of weather content for Schneider Electric; Jon Brekke, vice president of membership & energy markets for Great River Energy; Nicholas Franco, director of sustainability services at U.S. Energy Services; Ben Gerber, manager of energy/labor management policy at Minnesota Chamber of Commerce; John Hillen, CEO of Direct Source, Inc.; Bob Jacquart, owner, founder and CEO of Stormy Kromer; Pat Milan, chief creative officer at Tunheim; and Kathy Tunheim, CEO of Tunheim.

View photos from the event on Facebook.

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