Dan Reicher, director of climate change and energy initiatives at Google Inc., spoke at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum Wall Street on Wednesday in support of a new government agency that would help clean technology companies bridge the “valley of death,” a gap in financing for the first full-scale demonstration.
We sat down with Reicher for a few minutes to talk about this initiative and renewable energy in general, with relation to Google. Reicher’s not just a Googler. He was formerly the vice president and co-founder of New Energy Capital Corp., a private equity firm funded by the California State Teachers Retirement System and Vantage Point Venture Partners. He also served as assistant secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy at the U.S. Department of Energy from 1997 through 2001.
Here’s the edited excerpt of our interview:
Q: Google, in October 2008, issued a proposal for shifting our energy use more to renewables and achieving certain targets by 2030. What has happened since?
A: We’ve made some progress, but not nearly the progress we need. We need to have real changes in policy and finance. We’ve got to be working in an integrated way at the state level, in Washington. There are energy efficiency standards, more transmission development that can be handled at the state level. We think there’s real power in information, getting information to people so that they can make changes. We support the [Electricity Consumers] Right To Know Act [that will help consumers access their electricity use information.] The challenge is to hit all three points–accelerate progress of technology, policy and radically increase the amount of capital necessary. There’s no single answer.
Q: Has the government stood in the way of achieving renewable energy expansion?
A: We have a fairly unpredictable and unreliable system of federal incentives for renewable energy that has an impact on investments.
Q: How do we get more capital to the renewable energy sector?
A: We support CEDA [Clean Energy Deployment Administration] and a better system of tax credits. (CEDA is a proposed program being evaluated by both chambers of Congress that would fund clean technology demonstration projects with an initial capitalization of $10 billion.)
Q: Why is this important to Google?
A: We have engineers working on energy-related hardware and software every day, we have policy people waking up every day working on this, and we have meaningful investments in energy. CEDA brings a lot of that together....MORE