The Raleigh Chamber visits congressional leaders to discuss energy

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Research Triangle Regional Partnership briefed Congressional leaders on the region’s cleantech cluster and how this sector has increased jobs, investment and innovation.   

Local chamber leaders from 13 states traveled to Washington D.C. for a series of Capitol Hill meetings. Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy organized the trip to highlight the innovative cleantech and clean energy initiatives being led by chambers of commerce from across the country. Michael Haley, project manager with Wake County Economic Development, Lee Anne Nance RTRP Executive Vice President, and Aaron Nelson, President & CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber joined select chambers and cleantech business leaders from across the country sharing their experiences, challenges, and opportunities promoting business and economic growth in cleantech and clean energy.

Raleigh, Wake County, and the Research Triangle are national leaders in smart grid and cleantech because of the high concentration of companies and university assets.  A recent RTI study found that there are 169 cleantech firms in the region.  Of these 16 are Fortune 500 companies and another 24 are startups less than 5 years old.  “There is an enormous concentration of cleantech and smart grid companies in Wake County and Raleigh,” said Michael Haley project manager for Wake County Economic Development.  The RTI report identified 96 smart grid companies locally. 

Aaron Nelson, President of the Chapel Hill- Carrboro Chamber of Commerce (Left), Lee Anne Nance, Executive Vice President at the Research Triangle Regional Partnership (Center), and Michael Haley, Project Manager for Wake County Economic Development (Right)

Among the top policy priorities for the Research Triangle team was continued federal support for research and development at regional universities, such as the National Science Foundation-funded FREEDM Systems Center at N.C. State University, which is working to transform the nation’s electric power grid into a smart grid that can store and distribute energy produced from solar panels, wind farms, fuel cells and other energy sources.  University R&D is a primary driver of the region’s cleantech economy along with a high concentration of companies that have relocated to and formed in the region over 60 years. Company formation has accelerated in recent years as technology innovations from the region’s hardware and software industry have been deployed in regional energy, transportation and water-related companies. This is transforming the way those industries create, distribute and manage energy and natural resources and the way consumers use them, resulting in new companies, jobs and economic growth.

The Triangle delegation met with Senator Richard Burr and was able to share many local successes such as the creation of the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster.  The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster is an initiative of business, government, academic and nonprofit leaders working to accelerate the cleantech economy and is led by an 11-member board of directors.  The Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy delegation also met with several senators and representatives and staff including: Senator Mike Lee (Utah), Senator Dan Coats (Indiana), Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina), Senator Chris Coons (Delaware), Senator Jerry Moran (Kansas), Representative Todd Young (Indiana), Representative Peter Roskam (Illinois), Representative Eric Cantor (Virginia), Representative Dan Benishek (Michigan), and Representative Bob Latta (Ohio).

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, RTRP and Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber were joined by chambers from Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Virginia, South Carolina, Missouri, Utah, Indiana, Tennessee, California and Texas. 

To learn more about smart grid cleantech in Raleigh and Wake County, please visit http://www.raleigh-wake.org/smartgrid

Read the official press release about the trip here.