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Can A Low-Carbon Recovery Agenda Create Jobs And Help The Economy?

Charlottesville, Virginia

July 4, 2020

Some of you know I spent the last 10 years of my career working for the federal "green bank." We provided loan guarantees to innovative energy and auto-related projects that due to where they were in the development life cycle were not able to secure debt financing (and you are not going to finance a capital-intensive project with expensive venture equity). Our loan guarantees backstopped funds that came from the Treasury Department (primarily). Yes, my group did Solyndra. We also did Tesla. And we did the first five utility-scale solar, the largest wind farms, came close to doing the first offshore wind farm in the US, and the nuclear plant being built in Georgia. Overall we guaranteed almost $40 billion of investments. It wasn't the most lucrative period of my career, but I felt and feel that I made a noteworthy contribution to the U.S. expanding its presence in the renewable sector.

I found this McKinsey article interesting. There are times when governments need to provide stimulus to move the market in the "right" direction. Some would argue that renewables is not the right direction for the U.S. Not that I want to be a lemming, but the rest of the developed world has embraced a low-carbon future. The U.S. used to be a leader in so many industries - power generation being one of them. Now we ceded that position (in the energy sector) to the Chinese and the Europeans. This article makes the point that investing in a low-carbon technologies can provide more jobs than staying the course that MAGA would have us pursue.

It is certainly worth having the debate.

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