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New national cleantech advocacy group takes shape

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 7, 2011 08:07 AM

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Hemant Taneja, the venture capitalist who helped create the New England Clean Energy Council in 2007, is involved with a new trade group that makes its debut this week: the Advanced Energy Economy. The Washington- and Palo Alto- based organization hopes to knit together state and regional associations, and serve as a new national voice for the cleantech industry. It will subsume the operations of the Clean Economy Network, a Washington-based organization with six employees that sought to promote energy-related innovation.

“We want to build a business voice for the industry beyond Al Gore and T. Boone Pickens,” Taneja says. “The three principles of the group are to have a full and fair accounting of the costs of the energy we use; open markets; and to embrace long-term thinking.” The Advanced Energy Economy will seek to collaborate with already-established groups like the New England Clean Energy Council, the Illinois-based Clean Energy Trust, and the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association.

Backing the new group are hedge fund manager Thomas Steyer of Farallon Capital Management, several foundations, and General Catalyst, the Cambridge-based firm that employs Taneja. The group doesn’t yet have an executive director, but its board includes George Shultz, former secretary of Labor, Treasury and State; former Colorado governor Bill Ritter; Duke Energy chief executive James E. Rogers; and First Solar chairman Mike Ahearn. (Update: an AAE spokesperson tells me that Rogers and Ahearn are not yet officially on the board.)

From today's press release announcing the launch of Advanced Energy Economy:

Advanced energy includes all solutions that move us toward the goal of energy that is affordable, abundant, and secure. Rather than favoring specific technologies, advanced energy is inclusive in nature and judged by the benefits it provides in the field and in the marketplace. Electric and plug-in hybrid cars, lightweight composites for airplane bodies, natural gas-fueled trucks, high-performance buildings, more efficient industrial processes, and the latest wind, solar, and nuclear technologies – these all represent advanced energy in that they produce energy savings, use resources more productively, reduce dependence on foreign oil and reduce health and environmental costs.

“It’s time to look at energy innovation as a necessity for America, not an option,” said Tom Steyer, one of the founders of AEE and founder and co-managing partner of Farallon Capital Management. “As global energy demand continues to grow America has the opportunity to lead the world toward new ways to generate, use, and conserve this vital resource. If we do, it will advance our economy, improve our health and increase our national security. Not to do so would be a tragedy.”

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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