Mid-Atlantic Cleantech Leaders: We’re Here, We’re Expanding, We’re Providing Real Solutions


by Mike Casey, via Scaling Green

Cleantech deniers are spending big these days to bolster their lobbying agenda. They’re airing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of anti-clean energy “Super PAC” advertisements, trying to block congressional renewal of the wind power production tax credit. And they just pushed a “No More Solyndras Act” through the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s all part of an aggressive, ongoing effort by the fossil fuel lobby to push clean energy policy into the culture wars (hat tip to J. Patrick Coolican of the Las Vegas Sun).

But if you look through the propaganda haze, the fact remains that Americans, even in very red states, overwhelmingly support growing the clean economy. If regular people (not lobbyists) had their way, politicians from both parties would be trying to out-compete themselves on who could be better at growing the clean economy. Instead, in many states, clean economy sectors are faced with a choice between one candidate who might be favorably inclined to help, and another who mocks what we do or even cheers on the demise of American clean economy companies.

In Virginia, which has one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country between two former governors, there has been an interesting contrast. Former Senator George Allen has routinely and aggressively mocked clean energy, while former Governor Tim Kaine actually sought out a meeting meet with clean economy leaders.

In an effort to grow our options, we got 10 mid-Atlantic clean economy players together for a roundtable discussion with Governor Kaine at our headquarters (list of participants below).

Our message was:

1.) Clean economy sectors are real industries.

2.) We’re expanding, employing people and helping make the economy cleaner and more efficient.

3.) The obstacles to scaling the clean economy are surmountable.

4.) What we need is a business environment that’s stable, effective and conducive to helping the clean economy grow, whether in the mid-Atlantic region or nationally.

5.) Americans deserve a public dialogue among our leaders that actually reflects the sentiment of voters, who want us to grow.

The clean economy scaling ideas participants offered were compelling:

  • Ned Hall of AES stressed the need for a coherent, all-of-the above energy strategy at the federal level, with the aim of ensuring that the Production Tax Credit and Renewable Portfolio Standards result in renewable energy supplies growing and becoming more cost effective.
  • Mark Wagner of energy efficiency giant Johnson Controls argued that innovations such as his company’s “unique performance contracting” mechanism for energy efficiency upgrades are a “win-win success story.” Savings are guaranteed for the customer, while the energy efficiency company makes money as well.
  • Markian Melnyk of Atlantic Wind Connection emphasized the tremendous potential that building offshore represents to scale wind energy. Low natural gas prices have created the “head room” to accelerate clean energy deployment without rate shock to power consumers. Governor Kaine compared the opportunity we face to the “peace dividend” after the Cold War ended – but this time for an energy revolution.
  • Ken Locklin of Impax Asset Management raised the intriguing idea of “Clean Energy Victory Bonds,” while Standard Solar CEO Tony Clifford talked about the importance of extending “Master Limited Partnerships” to clean energy sectors (They are available only to fossil fuels now.)
  • Participants agreed on the need for enhanced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education, as well as making the real cost of fossil fuels – including subsidies, tax credits, and loopholes – transparent.
  • I made the point that we need to stop blowing taxpayers’ money on the wrong things, such as welfare to mature dirty energy sources, and instead increase our investments in the right things – energy efficiency and clean energy and upgraded transmission.

No one at the roundtable expects Governor Kaine, Senator Allen, or anyone else in public life just to do our bidding. But the fact is that we are real companies, belong to growing sectors, and are far less policy dependent than the fossil fuel lobby is on government help. Helping us make the U.S. economy more efficient, cleaner, and more sustainable is a good thing, and we ought to have a lot richer set of options for how to get that done – and who can do it.

In the end, this was just one roundtable. But it was a start.

Mike Casey is the founder of Tigercomm, a cleantech communications firm. This piece was originally published at Tigercomm’s blog, Scaling Green, and was reprinted with permission.

Participants in the forum included: Gov. Tim Kaine (now running for U.S. Senate); Ned Hall, The AES Corporation; Tony Clifford, Standard Solar, Inc.; Mark Wagner, Institute for Building Efficiency, Johnson Controls; Markian Melnyk, Atlantic Wind Connection; Ray Henger, Own Energy; Alec Hoppes, AREVA Solar; Mike Healy, Skyline Innovations; Ken Locklin, Impax Asset Management U.S.; Anthony Smith, Secure Futures.

2 Responses to Mid-Atlantic Cleantech Leaders: We’re Here, We’re Expanding, We’re Providing Real Solutions

  1. Ket Doering says:

    Good work. Thanks to Joe Romm and the crew. Living in the country where clean tech “sustainability is written in capital letters”, and where the GREEN party movement is over 38 years old, oe gets frustrated at how U.S. green tech advocates ignore all the major developments here in clean transportation,energy efficiency, wind, solar, and other things in the radical German “Energiewende”. True Germany is still at 6th place in greenhoouse gas emissions – fossil co² and methane- but is systematically cutting at rates still esceeding 5% applying a broad sysnergy of known technologies. You need more reporting as to what is being done in Europe and Asia.

  2. Kent Doering says:

    Dam i get dislexic whe I type too fast. Pardo the errors. But I really feel you all need some systematic, boots on the ground reporting from people who are on site-at the centers of sustainability like Hamburg, Copenhagen, Berlin, Stuttgart, or Munich.
    Jesus, after the Fukushima disaster, the people of the stodgy state of Baden Wuerttenburg Germany, voted out the Christian-Democrat-Free Democrat coalitio which had been in place since the founding of the Federal Republic- and voted in a green red coalition, i.e. the Greens are the largest fraction of this economically important South German state, and Wilfried Kretschmere is the Minister President heading the Green-Red coalition. i failed to see much mention about that or the Red Green coalition in Northrhein Westphalia.

    By way of comparison, the election of Kretschmer as the Minister President of Baden-Wuerrtenburg could be compared to Jill Stein being elected as the Goveror of Michigan considering the automotitve industry located there.

    Germans don´t have th Koch brothers to fud climjate chage denial, so we are leading in clean tech, and doing things that most Ameicans are not even aware of existing.

    We are now buildig buildigs which have radically lowered carbo footprint thanks to the renewable energy act revisos. And CHP is ot only mannndated in all new buildings, it is beig subsidized as abuild out in old buildings for base line power back up of the massive solar voltaic build out. Five GW build out last year. Germany installs more solar p.v. in a mponth than the total U.S. solar p.v. installed to date. With new heat recapture kindustrial processes, we are slashing the price of solar p.v., and one simple patent applied for invention of mine boosts maximum efficiency from 15% to 35%.
    That means, slashing the price per installed kilowatt to less than €400.oo.

    Methae has a greenhouse gas warming effect 25 times higher than co² and Germany is addressing “anthropogenic methane emissions” with urban systems- 1. sewage sludge methane recapture firing garbage incineration- for power and long distance heat ot water systems. (efficient systems- eliminate the methane from sewage and garbage dumps ad gnerate heat and power – displacing coal for power and heating oil for heat. (little things.)

    Then there is reducig the methane emissions from dairy, beef and pork feed lot ad poulty operations by paddle methane digesters feeding hybrid fuel cell -Stirling motor driving A +++ generators and heat recapture for farm buildig heat. Built out by 2025 in Germany alone- it slashes agrarian methane and puts an additional 44 GW onto the grid.

    And goodness, the new reewable energy act mandates massive building insulation, passive solar recapture architecture, and a hybrid heating systedm consisting of A. shallow geothermic heat pump, b. vacuum solar heat, ad c. in buildig- combied heat power (instead of heating oil or gas heat alone.) The VW Lichtblic CHP uit for multiple family dwelling units or commercial units pumps out 20 KW of power. The first traunch of 100.000 is sold oout and being installed replacing heating oil o existing buildings. CHP is beig subsidized on existig buildings as back up baseline power for the massive build out of silicon solar voltaic- now going up to 10 MW p.a. by 2015.

    Wpould Think Progress Green care to report about “Overunity Aqueous Fuel Brewing”.

    The next step in the German renewable eergy laws is to mandate that all food processing and idustrial thermodynamic processes use heat recapture systems for combined heat power processes.

    That starts with putting fuel cells over the nat gas flames heating up the brewing vats in Brewing, or bakery ovens in baking. it cotinues with putting up very efficient Alpha Stirling motors turning process exhaust heat into power. (fancy that.) Then, outside the brewery or bakery, banks of ICE engines that start with nat gas – an shift to ultra effficient Brown´s gas- magnetic resonqance steam ignition systems (usig rooftop runoff rainwater) which also power big A +++ generators…. gneerating hydrogen and browns gas going into the fuel cells and steaming units for delabelling and cleaning bottles.) Then the robot keg fillers and the automated bittle filling lines.
    The first aqeuous fuel powered upgrade on a Brewery is already exiting the drawing board phase for a small, prestigeous brewery near Munich. When that is up ad operating, all five big Munich breweries will follow. And these will not jus be energy automonomous, they will feed back power into Munich´s grid while getting off natural gas. So much is happening here in the “land of sustainability”. We have slashed our carbon footprint by 50% since 1992, and are slashig our greenhouse gas methane footprint, something American “greenies” are not even aware is possible. That will be mandated throughout the entire European Unio, thank you. We displace fossil with “anthropogenic methane”. (over 80 GW in power will be obtained that way. Poop and garbage power.)

    Without buildig one new dam German Bavaria and auistrian Tyrol will more than quadruple the hydroelectric power output. How. By repowering – replacing the aging inefficient generators with ultra eficient- with opposed magnetic field drive enhancement on “oversized A+++ generators – which nearly triples the power output of existing dams. (putting Munich over the top on “sustainable power). Bavaria and Tyrol are cooperating in testing and optimizeng anchored on stream power generation on the Inn and Danube rivers-.usig generators originally designed for big 3 MW wind turbines.-two o each unit. That will kick in about 5.100 MW of power from the Inn and the German section of the Danube alone. Or, power efficiency-upgradig production lines by replacing old ineficient motors with opposed magnet field enhanced drive- A +++ gneerators and power managemet systems which slah power consumption aproduction line by up to 75%.
    That means margin in addition to environmental protection. Gemans have discovered that the more “sustainability” tech cuts fossil fuel consumption, the less we pay for fossil fuel purchases, and that leaves more moey to invest in more “sustainability”. And by cuttig demand, the price of the remainig fossil stays faairly stable or even goes down in price suh as Russian natural gas.