Monthly Archives: September 2014

Oct 23 Symposium Features New Energy Economy Titans, Inc/ Jigar Shah, Robyn Beavers, David Hochschild, Geoff Syphers, Jeff Byron, More…


An upcoming North San Francisco Bay Symposium in Petaluma, CA features many prominent dignitaries in the movement for a new energy economy. The October 23rd symposium focuses on business opportunities arising from Community Choice Aggregation agencies now being established that are gaining political momentum in California and elsewhere.

Jigar Shah, CEO of Jigar Shah Consulting, was founder of Sun Edison in 2003, and the originator of the solar leasing business model that helped lead to the explosive growth of the solar industry. From 2009 to 2012 he served as the first CEO of the Carbon War Room, the organization established by Richard Branson to fight climate change. He is the author of Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy

Robyn Beavers is the Senior Vice President at NRG Energy. She previously served as Green Business & Operations Strategy Director at Google.

California Energy Commission member David Hochschild, who previously served as Vice President of External Relations at the manufacturer Solaria from 2007 to 2012. He served on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and established the advocacy group Vote Solar.

Geoff Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power, the second Community Choice Aggregation agency established in the state of California. The agency serves the San Francisco North Bay’s Sonoma County in the heart of wine country. Mr. Syphers previously served as Chief Sustainability Officer, Codding Enterprises, and has directed the effort to bring Sonoma Clean Power into existence. Other prominent figures in the clean tech and sustainability universe at the conference include:

Jeff Byron: Member, Band of Angels and Co-Chair, Cleantech Open National Board. Former California Energy Commissioner. Former Energy Director at Oracle.

Stephen Kelley: Senior Vice President of Sales, Green Charge Networks, Solar industry leadership at SoCore Energy, DRI Energy and SunPower, Sales Management at Solectron, Oracle, Visa, and IBM

Jaime Tuckey: Communications Director, MCE Clean Energy, County of Marin’s Community Development Agency, Former Planner, City of San Luis Obispo’s Community Development Department

Martha Amram: Co-Founder and CEO, WattzOn. Senior Fellow, Milken Institute. Executive Board Member, Sloan School of Management, MIT. Previous titles: CEO, Vocomo Software; Chief Economist, PLX Systems; Co-Founder, Glaze Creek Partners.

Dr. Faramarz Maghsoodlou: Director of Energy Solutions, Connected Energy Network, Cisco. Over 28 years of experience in the energy and IT industries, including past work with ABB, Sun Microsystems, KEMA, and OATI.

Shawn Marshall: Founder and Executive Director, LEAN Energy US; Served on local task force that became Marin Clean Energy; Former City Council Member, Mill Valley, CA.

Greg Thomson: Director of Programs, Clean Coalition; Leading initiatives in the advanced energy industry; Extensive advanced product development with Comcast and other Fortune 100 companies.

Mark Higgins: Senior Director, California Energy Storage Alliance and Strategen Consulting, Former Director of California utility PV development, Sun Edison, PG&E’s lead, transmission planning and interconnection regulatory work at CAISO/FERC

Bill Peterson: Executive Vice President – Chief Credit Officer, New Resource Bank. Oversees lending with sustainability-oriented businesses including clean tech and green building. Long history in community banking and sustainability.

Mark Toney: Executive Director, The Utility Reform Network (TURN), Kellogg National Leadership Fellow and National Science Foundation Fellow

Mark Perutz: Partner, DBL Investors. Board of Directors, Revolution Foods and RallyPoint. Former Bay Area Equity Fund Manager, JPMorgan. Past work with: SolarCity, Tesla Motors, Primus Power, NexTracker, PowerLight, eMeter, Bentek, Interwoven, and Accenture.

John Kalb: Founder, EV Charging ProsBoard of Directors, Charge Across Town, City Car Share and California EV Alliance

Mike Harrigan: Senior Program Manager – EV Adoption & Infrastructure, Bay Area Climate Collaborative. Managed EV programs at City CarShare, NRG Energy, Coulomb Technologies, Atieva and Tesla Motors.

Strela Cervas: Co-Coordinator, Energy and Climate Justice Program, California Environmental Justice Alliance. Board of Directors and Former Organizer, Pilipino Workers’ Center. Facilitates community trainings to make obscure energy topics more accessible.

Richard Lowenthal: Founder and Chief Technical Officer, ChargePoint. Startups: Lightera, Pipal Systems, Procket Networks. Past executive roles: Cisco, StrataCom, Stardent Computers, Convergent Technologies. Former Mayor, Cupertino, CA.

David Erickson: Public Utilities Regulatory Analyst, California Public Utilities Commission, Former Project Manager, Renewable Energy Secure Community Project

Ted Merendino: Business Development Manager, Stationary Energy Storage systems, Tesla Motors. B.S., USC Marshall School of Business.

Liz Yager: Manager of the Energy and Sustainability Division of the County of Sonoma; manages program areas of the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program, internal county sustainability initiatives, and the $8 million county utility budget.

David Worthington: Fleet Manager, County of Sonoma, CA – one of largest government plug-in electric vehicle fleets in US; listed in “Top 40 Government Green Fleets” and “100 Best Fleets in North America.” Board member, East Bay Clean Cities Coalition.

David Maino: Associate Principal and Project Manager, Integral Group. Architectural engineer focusing on electrical engineering to design highly efficient electrical, lighting, and renewable energy systems for buildings.

Colin Miller: Program Manager, Bay Localize and Local Clean Energy Alliance. Worked with Clean Power, Healthy Communities conference; Greenlining Institute; Urban Habitat; Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; and Oakland Climate Action Coalition.

Entitled “The Business of Local Energy Symposium,” the event will “bring together clean tech entrepreneurs, utility staff, regulators, and other interested public officials to explore opportunities in the emerging Community Choice energy market and develop a plan for the future of distributed generation and community programs in California.”

Sponsored by the Climate Protection Campaign, a citizen’s group focused on climate change, the symposium is meant to stimulate the growth of Community Choice agencies as a market for Silicon Valley and other clean tech business start ups and new technology. The Climate Protection Campaign has been instrumental in promoting the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) model of local government utility agencies in the state of California. This CCA model allows local government agencies or joint power authorities to buy and sell electricity without taking control of their local electrical grids, which remain under utility company ownership. CCA’s such as Sonoma Clean Power and Marin Clean Energy are seen as a vehicle to stimulate local development of solar, wind, biomass, and other renewable energy sources.

A Serious Review of Naomi Klein’s New Book – “This Changes Everything”


Naomi Klein’s new book This Changes Everything is the bugle behind our charge toward a renewable energy economy. Backed by a solid research team, Klein skillfully weaves an absorbing narrative of successes and failures in the battle against the horrific climate change threat. The book’s most hopeful accounts are of “Blockadia,” the widespread phenomena of local people who literally block the ravages of extractive, carbon producing industries in the places where they live by variously using local laws, still enforceable treaties, and direct action with their own bodies. Such local movements have proven far more effective than relying on leadership by ruling elites, who almost everywhere have proven themselves hamstrung and ineffectual, if not downright corrupt and criminally irresponsible about facing the climate threat.

Klein’s book presents some compelling arguments for action in specific parts of the battle. She importantly describes efforts in Germany to take back energy grids from private interests who obtained them in the course of neo-liberal reforms during the past decades. With more grids under local control, Germany has made astonishing strides toward implementing renewables in a short time period. Yet, similar examples of this key and specific part of the climate political movement in other places are scant in Klein’s story. For example, she does not mention the important Community Choice Aggregation movement in the USA whereby communities can take democratic control of their energy purchases without going through the belabored effort to purchase the power grid itself. Of course, the political strategies that wrest the grid from carbon producing industries and bring about widespread renewable energy should ultimately be addressed with localized policies. We can’t expect Klein to offer magic bullets. Indeed, she rightly criticizes “Magical Thinking” which places excessive hopes on big solutions. One aspect of this magical thinking is the hope that high profile green institutions, often hindered by a bureaucratic scramble for money and celebrity visibility, have a greater role to play than dedicated locals who address their unique situations with courage and determination.

As impressive as her book is, Klein incorrectly frames the battle as “Capitalism vs. the Climate”. The battle against GHG’s requires both political and technical solutions that go beyond the moribund capitalism vs. socialism paradigm. I don’t think Klein really believes in this paradigm herself, but her arguments might be more effective if she made her thinking on this point clear. Economic ideology is in every instance a crude reification of idealized economic behaviors. A more appropriate understanding that will solve our climate problem must not fail to use both the state and the free market to move forward, recognizing the essential truth that information and transparency must inform a democratic political system and economic system in order to correctly guide policy. This view is by no means “libertarian” in nature. Ideologues, of either the left or right, have almost nothing useful to offer the debate. The key is understanding the flow of information. Sometimes governments have enough information to act effectively. When information and knowledge is insufficient or inadequate the market is generally the most effective mechanism to find the right solution. Thankfully, this hyper information age is strangely appropriate to addressing this problem, and can help mold local solutions that draw on planet wide experience.

Klein’s book plays the essential role of providing a wealth of high quality information about the struggle that lies before us.

Community Choice Aggregation Agencies May be Potential Market for Silicon Valley Renewable Energy Related Start Ups


Promising renewable energy tech start ups in Silicon Valley take heed! Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) offers an important potential market for renewable energy tech. CCAs are agencies created by statute in several states that allow local jurisdictions to secure renewable energy supplies for resale to the public. CCAs are, in effect, public utilities, and they are spreading rapidly, already serving about 1300 municipalities across the USA. CCAs provide a new political framework for the rapid spread of renewable energy. One new and acclaimed CCA, Sonoma Clean Power of Sonoma County, CA, claims its business mission “offers you a choice of providers and creates a competitive marketplace that will encourage innovation.”

On October 23, 2014, a symposium entitled The Business of Local Energy “will bring together Cleantech entrepreneurs, utility staff, regulators, and other interested public officials to explore opportunities in the emerging Community Choice Energy market.” The symposium will be held in Petaluma, CA, about 40 miles north of San Francisco, where it will draw participants from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Among the featured speakers will be Geoff Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power; Jigar Shah, CEO of the Carbon War Room, and David Hochschild, a commisioner with the California Utility Commission.