It’s time to write my first proper post and already I’m feeling the weight of so much information. After just a week on the road I’ve come to realise that Colorado, Washington and Oregon are US states that are absolute hot-beds when it comes to community renewable energy projects, idea generation and policy making. Last Friday I was fortunate to attend a clean energy conference in Seattle and make contact with organisations and individuals who really are helping turn the tide when it comes to implementation and legislative change. There were several panels throughout the day and each panel featured national leaders in innovation. It really was something to behold.
I was lucky to be sitting at the same table as the day’s keynote speaker Ron Binz who was nominated by President Barrack Obama to be chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission but was forced to withdraw after being white-anted by oil companies who declared he was biased toward clean energy. He lost a senate committee vote by one and withdrew his nomination. Mr Binz and I chatted candidly over lunch and he said he was still reeling from the disappointment in October. “It’s still very raw,” he said. I’ll have a full story with Mr Binz soon.
The most notable thing about the conference was being exposed to a range of organisations all working toward a clean energy future. Regulation is one of the biggest hurdles for policy makers and community co-operatives. Next week I will be interviewing regulators, policy writers and community organisers in Portland and Seattle. The following week I’m heading to New York state and interviewing one of the founders of Solarize – a community group buying project that is turning up in states all over the country. I’m rounding out the US component of my trip by interviewing Erin Schrode in NYC, one of the most inspiring young environmentalists I’ve come across.
Oh and one last thing. I interviewed a community solar company in Boulder, Colorado, and the day I landed there was a citizen ballot when residents voted for the City of Boulder to start buying back the grid for an electricity utility. Citizens also voted to ban fracking in three of the four major cities in Colorado – Boulder included. I sat down with one of the founders of Frack Free Colorado to get some insight into community activism to help the anti-fracking movement at home.
Here is some news …
Stay tuned – I’ll get some stories up today hopefully.