The California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF) today announced the launch of the Center for Innovation and Sustainability, a new public policy arm created to address critical issues affecting the long-term transformation of the energy industry. The Center will work to identify and address high-level issues of market and policy design, such as the balance between market forces and regulatory mandates, as well as issues specific to particular clean energy technologies, such as barriers to increased energy efficiency, sustainably-derived biofuels, and aggressive renewable electricity development. Furthermore, to strengthen CalCEF’s role as a driver of clean technology development in California and beyond, the organization also announced today that Dan Adler has been promoted to President.
“To date, CalCEF has been very successful in engaging the venture capital community and promoting a supportive environment for transformational technologies that reduce fossil dependency and address global climate change,” said Dan Adler, President of CalCEF. “But this is only part of the challenge to transforming the energy system, which will require a much more robust and foresighted effort from public policy.”
The CalCEF Center for Innovation and Sustainability - Driving Public Policy to enable Markets for Clean Technology
The challenge of a clean energy transformation is long-term in nature, but current activity in both finance and public policy largely reflects a short-term emphasis. Crucial tax incentives are allowed to wax and wane, destroying the ability of firms to invest in energy assets that will last for decades. Federal policy mandates for biofuels fail to emphasize sustainable production methods, with predictable consequences for both agriculture and environmental protection - including the recent global surge in food prices. Short-term ownership patterns in real estate mask the incentive to invest in long-term energy efficiency benefits. And in finance, excessive emphasis is placed on the role of venture capital in supporting technologies and firms early in their development, with insufficient attention to how technologies become products and products become scalable infrastructure. “We need to understand these as long-term problems affecting the largest, most entrenched business in the world - and design our policy and market solutions with that same understanding,” said Adler.
The Center for Innovation and Sustainability will identify high-value points of intervention around key issues, seeking to become the “connective tissue” between participants in policy, technology and finance, and develop high-impact recommendations to the policy community. To attract the best partners in these efforts, the Center will launch an “Entrepreneurs in Residence” program that will bring thought leaders to the Center on a quarterly basis to coordinate a series of stakeholder meetings and produce recommendations around specific clean energy challenges. Early projects will include: focused efforts to improve the commercialization of clean energy technologies developed in public and private labs; new business models for energy efficiency that address long-standing market barriers; accelerating the development of renewable energy resources by scaling up the electric transmission system; and designing a strategy for sustainable biofuels in the western U.S. The Center will also be the hub of CalCEF’s ongoing efforts to advance public policy in general, and will coordinate the annual CalCEF Conference series.
“Investors, particularly those new to the emerging field of clean technology, are waking up to the pivotal role government must play in fostering these new markets and bringing them to maturity,” continued Adler. “CalCEF’s public mandate and exposure to the markets for clean energy capital means that the Center will be well positioned to identify key issues and the collaborations needed to address them. Given current economic conditions, the importance of sending the rights signals in markets such as biofuels, and the urgency of immediate action to address climate change, we feel these public-private collaborations will be absolutely essential in the months and years ahead.”
The Center will be governed by a Board of Directors, initially comprised of three members of the CalCEF Board: Michael Peevey, President of the California Public Utilities Commission; Art Rosenfeld, Commissioner at the California Energy Commission; and Mason Willirch, Chairman of the California Independent System Operator. Further Board members will be invited from leading public, private and non-profit entities.
The Promotion of Dan Adler
CalCEF also announced today the promotion of Dan Adler to President. Most recently serving as Vice President, Adler will assume responsibility for managing relationships with CalCEF’s investment partners, identifying critical gaps in the financial architecture of clean energy investing that CalCEF might fill, and ensuring that the newly-formed Center works hand-in-hand with CalCEF’s existing network of world-class policy, technology and finance constituencies.
“Dan has done a terrific job executing on CalCEF’s mission of promoting clean energy investment and identifying crucial policy issues that will keep those investment dollars flowing, not just from CalCEF but from investors around the world,” said Michael Peevey, CalCEF Chairman and President of the California Public Utilities Commission. “As President we are confident he will build on this success by leveraging his public policy background to speed market adoption of the game-changing technologies being developed and deployed by our portfolio companies, as well as by other companies emerging in this sector as a result of the increased need for clean energy solutions worldwide.”
In his prior role at CalCEF, Adler was responsible for developing a clean technology investment strategy that bridged the interests of public policy and private capital stakeholders in support of California’s renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change mitigation goals. Before joining CalCEF, Adler worked as a senior analyst in strategic planning for the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC), where he was responsible for designing and implementing California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard program, resulting in the most far-reaching and ambitious renewable energy program in the United States. He was also senior staff for the state’s aggressive climate change mitigation strategies, and had broad responsibility for analyzing emerging trends in the energy industry and developing and implementing policy to address those trends. Adler has prior professional experience in corporate social responsibility, international trade policy, and economic development, areas that increasingly overlap with the broad challenge of a transition to sustainable energy.