Does the world need another energy blog?

Author: Lewis Milford, Clean Energy Group | Project: Clean Energy Innovation

blogphoto-Wind-turbines-and-solar-panelsI think it might, and that is why we are starting one at Clean Energy Group.

We at Clean Energy Group have something unique to bring to the conversation – decades of experience to make clean energy work, largely outside of the Washington echo chamber, in the states and at the international level. We study trends outside of energy to learn new lessons in technology innovation, policy, and finance. We don’t accept the conventional wisdom on energy but instead ask hard questions about what is working and what is not.

As for me personally, I have been a public interest lawyer for over thirty years. I started out enforcing federal civil rights laws. I represented veterans exposed to Agent Orange and radiation. I worked on the Love Canal hazardous waste case. I taught law school and wrote a history book on America’s poor treatment of its war veterans. I did ten years of energy rate cases to advocate for the environment. I came to favor energy deregulation, to lessen the power of the utility monopolies. I founded two national nonprofit groups working on clean energy, and have worked at every level of that issue for the last ten years. I am skeptical about many solutions from Washington, wary about big environmental campaigns without clear goals, and I believe in smaller-scale but scalable technology innovation and the creation of much smarter finance tools.

Now is the ideal time for a new brand of hard-headed, but informed, commentary on clean energy. All the conventional wisdom is out the window. Though few would admit it, there is confusion in the ranks about where to go on clean energy. Cap and trade is on its death bed. Clean energy is now as much about economic development as it is about environmental policy. Foundations are searching for what to fund. The international climate process needs to be reshuffled and remade. US states have led the way on clean energy for years, but they get little recognition for doing so. Our federal officials have started talking about innovation and have serous intentions but do not have a clear road map.

It is an open field for new ideas. We think we have some and will broadcast them with this new blog. Here are a few of the things we plan to write about in the days and months ahead:

  • With all the talk in Washington about innovation, shouldn’t  the federal government reinvent itself, as corporations have, to tap the global brain and use “open innovation” to get ideas from lab to the market?
  • Even without new money, what can the federal government do to reorganize itself to use existing dollars more effectively to promote new innovation and clean energy deployment?
  • How can we create stronger partnerships between the federal government and the states to get more clean energy into the commercial marketplace?
  • If we have to massively scale up many new clean energy technologies to address climate, what does that mean for foundations, advocates, and governments, who have been told that energy efficiency and renewables can do it all?
  • What more is needed to make offshore wind and marine energy a reality in the US?
  • What can the US learn, not just from Europe, but from the developing world, about sophisticated “value chain” strategies to create real, non-subsidized clean energy markets?
  • What does it mean to the many incoming governors that clean energy might be one of the most promising job creators; does a new focus on economic development get us past the old partisan divides?
  • What are new financing tools to fund clean energy innovations?

We hope to stand out and stand up for ideas you might not have heard before. We are looking for readers and partners who want to think critically, beyond the fashionable, the easy, or the glib.

We will try our best to inform, not inflame; to provoke, not patronize. We will tell you what is coming, as well as what could come with more hard work.

We hope you give us a chance to convince you that another energy blog might be the right thing at the right time, when the direction forward is so unclear, when radical new thinking might be just what we need.