VCs and public policy: Massachusetts takes steps to promote clean energy!
One of my partners at Atlas Venture, Jeff Andrews, has been a very active clean energy investor. Jeff has been working closely with the New England Clean Energy Council to promote the New England region as a hub of cleantech innovation. Recently the Massachusetts legislature passed a pretty compehensive set of legislation that may really push the state in the direction of being a leader in green energy adoption and innovation. Congrats to Jeff and all the other people who worked so hard with the state’s politicians to get these bills passed. Many Boston area venture capitalists were involved in this, and it’s great that they could all come together to promote this legislation.
The two key arms of this legislation are the Green Communities Act and the Green Jobs Act. The first provides carrots and sticks to get utilities to increase the use of renewable energy and encourage conservation. Additionally this act should encourage the deployment of small-scale solar and wind power generation, as it increases the cap of power that can be sold back onto the grid from small business or consumer green power installations.
The Green Jobs Act establishes a Clean Energy Technology Center, provides funding for a Clean Energy Seed Grant program to help researchers find funding for their clean energy ideas. It also funds something Jeff is particularly excited about, the Clean Energy Fellowship Program. This program educated experienced business leaders who wish to make the transition out of their current industry and into the clean energy space. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with some of the executives who have been taking part in the program and it is a great idea. These are smart executives/entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in cleantech. The program brings in technology, policy and other experts to educate the executives on clean energy… more importantly, it introduces them to other entrepreneurs and technologists already in the industry. Finally, the act sets aside funds to help train students for jobs in the clean energy economy.
So this post is for all of you who have lost faith in politicans (and VC’s, perhaps) to actually address pressing issues… Let’s hope this is a trend that can be maintained!