Local Action Leads the Way

Big opportunity for Oregon cleantech innovators

I am frequently asked if the presidential election, subsequent cabinet appointments, and recent talk about major budget cuts to clean energy R&D are having an impact on our work here at Oregon BEST. My response usually acknowledges that it's discouraging to have so many people in influential positions who reject or minimize the threats posed by climate change and want to cut funding for programs that have been vital to advances in science and technology development - advances that give me hope humanity can overcome many of the environmental challenges we face.

Next, however, I highlight that most policies influencing deployment of clean energy technologies have been implemented at the state and local level. State renewable portfolio standards and energy storage mandates, municipal or regional climate action plans, and policies implemented by state public utility commissions have been the most significant governmental forces for shifting the mix of energy technologies away from fossil fuels toward renewable sources. And falling prices, consumer demands, and other private forces have contributed just as significantly to this shift. Like so many in the clean energy world have stated in the last six months, it's too late to turn back the tide on the mass adoption of clean energy technologies.

Even at the federal level, Congress has made it clear with the recently passed FY2017 budget that it wants to continue funding for programs like ARPA-E, which has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to fund R&D in transformational technologies that can have large global impact on energy demand or the energy mix in future decades. In fact, the new budget includes a modest increase over last year's ARPA-E budget.

I don't have enough space here to comment on the international opportunities for exporting our clean technologies to countries that haven't wavered in their commitment to fighting and/or mitigating climate change, but suffice it to say that these opportunities are HUGE!

I'm keeping a close eye on things at the federal level, but the opportunity for Oregon's clean technology innovators to make a positive economic and environmental impact is just as significant and vast as it was before the election. So let's keep our eyes on the ball and continue to deliver the solutions the world needs!

Onward!

David Kenney, President & Executive Director
Oregon BEST