On November 22, the Cleantech Alliance Mid-Atlantic, in partnership with the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund, hosted "The State of Energy Technology." Pepper Hamilton LLP was one of the sponsors to the invitation-only event, which brought together more than 75 Southeast Pennsylvania-based clean energy and energy technology industry leaders, investors and stakeholders, along with elected officials, for an evening of discussion and networking.
Event attendees heard remarks from two Pennsylvania congressional leaders, who shared insights on energy and clean technology innovation in Pennsylvania.
Congressman Ryan Costello (R-6) offered observations on clean energy progress in the state, noting the important role these companies and industry leaders play in Southeast Pennsylvania.
“Clean energy is very much a part of the Philadelphia region and its economy. And it’s something that more than bears mentioning. It bears making sure that we invest and reinvest in it because it’s an economic driver of our local economy,” Costello said.
Attendees also heard remarks from Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-7), who noted that he frequently works with colleagues to highlight energy innovation as a growing economic force that will pay dividends down the road.
Several clean energy and clean technology CEOs and business leaders participated in a panel discussion moderated by Pepper partner Thomas P. Dwyer, including former Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker. He is now vice president of development at Renmatix, a biochemical company focused on replacing fossil fuel-based industrial chemicals with bio-based alternatives. Schweiker said, “The consumer and what they expect is changing very quickly. There is a chance to offer our children and grandchildren a cleaner, safer place.”
Brett Thibodeau, vice president of Dynamic Energy, a solar developer with offices in Pennsylvania, shed light on the significant momentum and growth indicators in the solar energy sector. “There are over a quarter of a million jobs in solar right now. Solar represents almost two and a half times as many jobs in 2016 as coal in 2015,” he said. Thibodeau noted that installation costs have dropped dramatically, with more than a 70 percent reduction in the past six years, and that in 2016 solar will close out as a $30 billion industry.
Ravikant Barot, CEO of air conditioning technology firm OxiCool, said his company chose to locate in Southeast Pennsylvania because the greater Philadelphia area “by far has the best workforce around.” Barot explained the opportunity and liability that air conditioning energy use represents to the country. “Every year, this country is losing $300 to $400 billion (on energy costs associated with air conditioning), and our defense budget annually is $600 billion. This is the impact air conditioning is having on the grid.”
Greg Wolfe, founder and CEO of grid monitoring technology company Fischer Block, talked about his experiences opening a technology company in the region and spoke highly of the workforce and talent in Southeast Pennsylvania.
All of the speakers praised Ben Franklin Technology Partners and its work in the state.