The environmental activist and VC talks up his love of green energy, opposition to a Feinstein bill, and concern about Chinese solar companies ‘flooding the market.’
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. delivered a rousing speech that called for a national build-out of renewable energy production and transmission, a talk that got him a standing ovation at Solar Power International in Anaheim Wednesday.
Kennedy, an attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper and a partner at VantagePoint Venture Partners, positioned himself as an advocate for environmental protection and clean energy businesses.......Kennedy is a big supporter of solar farms and highlighted Oakland-based BrightSource Energy – a VantagePoint portfolio company – in his speech. BrightSource is developing 2.6 gigawatts of solar thermal power plants in California and southwestern states.
He said projects like BrightSource's are important for boosting renewable energy generation quickly in the country. He also voiced his objection to a bill being worked on by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to set a large track of land in California's Mojave Desert as a national monument, a designation that would prevent power plant development....
...Kennedy not only railed against the coal industry, he also characterized China as a big competitor for the United States in the energy equipment market, a comparison that might be at odds at a solar conference with a strong contingency of Chinese manufacturers (Trina Solar's name is on the freebie bags given to conference attendees).
"We are in an arms race with the Chinese. It's not over tanks and planes, but who is going to build more solar panels, and build them more efficiently," said Kennedy, who added that Chinese manufacturers are going to "flood the market" with their goods.
Maria Shriver, the First Lady of California is Mr. Kennedy's cousin. From the AP via the Seattle Times:
Solar deal to enrich firm with Schwarzenegger tie?
A relative of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and one of his former cabinet secretaries are part of a private investment group that could score a lucrative payoff if regulators approve a sprawling solar-energy complex near the Mojave Desert Preserve....MORE
Here's a copy of a letter from the staff counsel to the siting committee of the California Energy Commission:
Brightsource’s June 8, 2009, letter exhorts the Committee to order the Energy Commission staff (Staff) to rush the publication of its environmental assessment before that assessment is complete, based on the general need of the state to develop renewable energy and the specific need of Brightsource to qualify for economic stimulus money. With overheated rhetorical flourish it claims that “the proceeding is at a dead stand still” and implies that Staff is “holding the FSA/DEIS hostage.” These claims are wrong. As the Siting Committee knows from the discussions at the May 18, 2009, scheduling conference, the scheduling issues for the Ivanpah project are much more complex than the Brightsource missive would indicate....MORE
Brightsource is expected to be the recipient of Federal loan guarantees. To understand the magnitude, the first such guarantee was to Goldman Sachs/Wal*Mart heirs- backed Solyndra, for $535 million.
In addition to VantagePoint, Brightsource investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson; Google.org; BP Alternative Energy; StatoilHydro Venture; Morgan Stanley and Chevron Technology Ventures.
With all that backing you've got to wonder why they need the DoE guarantee?
The American taxpayer should demand warrants in return for the guarantee, priced at, say, founder, or at worst, A round, valuations.
I'm just sayin'.