The U.S. Trade Representative on Monday asked the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate how U.S.-provided renewable energy services affect development of renewable energy projects worldwide. The ITC’s report, expected by June 28, 2013, will focus on the development, generation, and distribution of renewable energy—specifically onshore and offshore wind and solar energy.

The ITC routinely launches "fact-finding" investigations, generally covering matters related to tariffs of trade, typically at the request of the Trade Representative, the House Committee on Ways and Means, or the Senate Committee on Finance. The ITC last conducted a report on trade in the renewable sector in 2005.

"In the request letter, the [Trade Representative (USTR)] stated that since the publication of that report, the U.S. and global markets for such services have undergone significant change. The USTR noted that technological improvements and decreasing prices have led to rapid demand growth in the renewable energy services sector, particularly in the wind and solar power segments, but that changes in government incentive programs have created uncertainty regarding the future of the renewable energy market."

The ITC, an independent, nonpartisan entity, is expected to present findings objectively, making no recommendations on policy. Among aspects that will be investigated are the size of U.S. and global markets for certain renewable energy services, including identification of key export and import markets for such services, and factors that affect supply and demand. The report will also examine global renewable energy trade over the past five years, highlighting trends in investment, and identify barriers to U.S. trade and investment in renewable energy services.

The ITC said in a memo that the Trade Representative had asked the commission not to include any confidential business or national security classified information in the report, saying his office "intends to make the Commission’s report available to the public in its entirety."

A public hearing in connection with the investigation is scheduled at the ITC in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 29, 2012.

Sources: POWERnews, ITC
—Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)