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A Business Voice for Advanced Energy

About two months after starting Next Generation, one of my co-founders and partners Tom Steyer called me and said, “Do you know what the New England Clean Energy Council is?”  I admitted I didn’t.  He said, “Check it out, and call me back.”  I did, but I assumed it was because he wanted to make a donation to them.  When I called him back, he instead said, “I want to replicate that model – nationwide.” So that’s what he did.

The result is Advanced Energy Economy.  Not quite two years old now, AEE, a national business association with a fast-growing membership of advanced energy companies, and the AEE Institute, its charitable and educational affiliate, have developed into outstanding organizations that are having a big impact.  I want to call your attention to two projects that are shedding light on how energy policy is formulated across the country and helping to stop bad policy in its tracks.

Very few Americans pay attention to state Public Utility Commissions, even though they play a vital role in determining what kind of energy we use, its cost, how it is regulated and much more. The AEEI Public Utility Commission Portal offers a window into some of these little understood but vitally important entities. As AEE’s Hannah Polikov writes public utilities have “broad regulatory authority over the nation’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities … oversee the siting of electric generation facilities and enabling infrastructure, issue rules and regulations needed to implement critical legislation on renewable portfolio standards and energy efficiency mandates, and conduct adjudicatory proceedings to set rate increases, to highlight just a few of their responsibilities.” The PUC Portal is a one-stop shop for easily accessible information about some of the most important – and least understood – decision makers in the country.

Add to this the launch of the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker, which is a first-of-its-kind database allowing users to analyze and compare advanced energy legislation pending in all 50 States. The tool, developed in partnership with the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, aggregates thousands of bills being considered in every state and gives users unprecedented access to the democratic process as it relates to advanced energy.

But AEE is more than just an information source. It has been actively engaged in advancing and defending critical energy legislation in every state and racking up an impressive 56 wins overall, including 49 new laws that promote advanced energy and successful defense against seven attacks on the advanced energy industry. AEE’s state affiliates and partners – 13 organizations involved in 20 states, including the New England Clean Energy Council that first attracted Tom Steyer’s attention – helped defend and expand statewide Renewable Portfolio Standards, energy efficiency measures, and innovative energy finance mechanisms to help advanced energy technologies compete with entrenched and carbon-intensive mainstays.

Not too shabby for a year at the office and in the trenches, and it’s only August.

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