Thursday, 19 Sep 2002

OLYMPIA, Wash.

“Bleary eyed” pretty much sums up how I feel this morning — but somehow, at the same time, I’m also energized. Although I’ve clearly packed way too much into one week, it’s all adding up to be pretty, well, energizing.

Now that I’m back from my trip to Montana and have scanned all of the email from the last four days for the really important ones, I’m nearly ready to begin preparing for another trip and another talk. This time, I’m heading to Walla Walla, Wash., for the Northwest Renewable Energy Festival. If you’re not familiar with Walla Walla, it’s a beautiful little city near the mighty Columbia River, nestled in the heart of apple and wine country — and, now, wind-power country. So it’s an appropriate location for the festival, which combines hands-on renewable energy technology workshops, panels on commercial, industrial, and institutional energy use, and, my favorite, visionary speeches by the likes of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and, the big man himself, Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute.

My talk, titled “Poised for Profits: Business Opportunities in Clean Energy,” will focus on the extraordinary economic opportunities available to businesses, states, and regions that capitalize on the growing global demand for cutting-edge renewable energy technologies.

The term “poised for profits” comes from a report by the same name released last spring by Climate Solutions, which projected that the global market for clean energy technologies will be worth $3.5 trillion over the next 20 years — twice the size of the market for passenger and cargo aircraft. And this was a highly conservative analysis that assumes no Kyoto protocol on climate change or other new policies to promote clean energy. As President Bush, backed by big industry, continues to harp away at the misguided notion that addressing global warming will lead to unemployment and loss of economic competitiveness, this message of financial potential is one more people need to hear.

Gov. Gary Locke unveiling Poised for Profit.

Some elected leaders and economic development gurus have already taken notice. For instance, Washington Gov. Gary Locke (D), who helped us unveil the report at a press conference at the Washington Technology Center, was so excited about the report’s findings that he directed his state economic development director to make it a major priority as the state charts its economic future. Since then, he’s convened a roundtable to review the Poised for Profit recommendations and help fashion a state action plan. The “clean energy as economic opportunity” message is also catching on in places like Austin, Detroit, and Chicago, lending further credibility to the idea that huge employment and economic revitalization possibilities are emerging through clean energy development and export.

I’ve managed to convince Amory Lovins to spare me an hour or so of his time after my talk so I can ask him a whole slew of questions and possibly even ignite the spark for some kind of future collaboration. No wonder I feel energized.

Aside from crafting this little piece for Grist, the remainder of my workday will include a meeting to begin to flesh out the program for our upcoming Harvesting Clean Energy conference (to be held Feb. 10 and 11 in Boise, Idaho), and making all of the various preparations for my trip to Washington. After that, I’m off to pick up my daughter from the bus, pack some clothes, and go to bed so that I can get up at 3:30 in the morning and cram into a car with three Evergreen State College students for the five hour drive to Walla Walla. No problem.