Karl Gawell has been active in advancing renewable energy since ‘75, when he was hired as a Legislative Assistant (LA) by his hometown Congressional Representative, Rep. Ron Mottl, D-Ohio. Subsequently, he was hired by Rep. Richard Ottinger (D-NY). During this time when many renewable and energy efficiency measures were enacted, he helped organize over 70 House and Senate offices into an ad hoc “solar coalition” which was successful in influencing key provisions in these energy measures.
In 1980, he assisted Dennis Hayes and Dr. Henry Kelly at the Solar Energy Research Institute (now NREL) with an assessment of the potential for a combined renewable energy and energy efficiency effort to meet national energy needs. It was a groundbreaking study that brought together leading efficiency and renewable energy experts to develop a collaborative vision. It was published under the title “Building a Sustainable Energy Future.”
In 1991, he joined the staff of newly elected Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) to assist the Senator in imprinting a grass-roots driven, progressive agenda into energy legislation then being prepared by the Senate Energy Committee which became the 1992 Energy Policy Act.
He has also served with the American Wind Energy Association, the Geothermal Energy Association, the National Wildlife Federation, and The Wilderness Society. He was a member and elected Chair of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Commerce (2010-2014), has served on the Renewable Energy Advisory Board of the US Export-Import Bank, and has been an advisor to the US EPA, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the United Nations.
He was recognized for his “leadership in national renewable energy policy” at the 2011 Renewable Energy World Conference.