Last week's IREC Vision Summit convened a broad group of 120 prominent national and state clean energy influencers, industry, advocates and educators for a visionary exploration of the pillar policies, practices and workforce training necessary to enable millions more Americans to benefit from clean energy, while supporting broad climate and equity goals.
“This room is a powerhouse of energy influencers from across the country and across industries,” said IREC President/CEO Larry Sherwood. “Together with our shared commitment and passion for a clean energy future, we have begun to bring national clarity to the steps needed to reach the next milestones to making 100% clean energy goals a reality for more states and more American consumers.”
“We have an opportunity to be inclusive, to transform communities through bold goals of 100% clean energy,” said IREC Board Chair Larry Shirley in summarizing some of the day’s themes about energy equity, resilience and technology transformation. “An extraordinary gathering of national clean energy leaders spent the day focused on what has to happen to make bold clean energy goals a reality - on a state and community level - because that's where the transformation is happening. That's where clean energy policies, practices and intentional decision making will change lives. And it’s where IREC’s regulatory team is working across the U.S. to get the rules right.”
“We need to own the transformation,” said Rose McKinney-James in the keynote address. “We have the tools to take bold action. We have leadership in place. We are winning the fight in public opinion. Committed and informed leadership is the key to advancing the clean energy vision.” McKinney-James, a former commissioner with the Nevada Public Service Commission, has a long history in public service, regulatory advocacy for renewables and clean energy policies.
Dan Reicher, who has served three U.S. presidents, including as Assistant Secretary of Energy, led a panel on Optimizing Clean Energy Technologies. “Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit, and low-hanging fruit grows back,” said Reicher, currently with Stanford University and a member of the IREC Board of Directors. He went on to say: “We need it all,” summarizing comments about the importance of both large-scale and distributed clean energy. Reicher added that “Nothing gets done without money…We need to work faster and bolder and build an appetite for investment.”
The ultimate outcome of the event will be a set of Energy Transformation for All national principles to guide the path to a 100% clean energy future. Summit participants will continue to collaborate to refine next steps toward achieving bold clean energy goals by 2050, and the 2030 milestones to reaching a shared clean energy vision.
Five broadly representative panels discussed themes around these questions:
- What are the policy, regulatory and workforce challenges and opportunities surrounding 100 % clean energy goals and where and how do they intersect?
- What do state, local and national decision makers need to know to enable more sustainable, resilient, secure power and transportation sectors?
- What are the gaps, needs, solutions and opportunities to achieve the 100% clean energy future we envision – for the benefit of all consumers and all communities?
Immediate preliminary outcomes were shared from breakout sessions during which groups were asked to report out Twitter-length summaries of their discussions. A few include:
- Reduce information asymmetries to enable customer choices at all levels to drive markets/product evolution & regulatory change.
- Align policy efforts by clean energy sector advocacy groups across large & small renewables, storage, electric transport & energy efficiency.
- We need an inclusive cradle-to-grave credentialing ecosystem that addresses old & new skills gaps urgently!
- Benefits of clean energy should go beyond access. Environment resiliency, workforce resiliency, climate resiliency & wealth resiliency — all with collective goals and collective outcomes.
- Make clean energy accessible, possible. Be intentional. Make it affordable. Make it easy.
- Take a long-term view toward clean energy employment and plan to invest and capture across the economy.