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New England cleantech execs and investors head for DC

Posted by Scott Kirsner  July 12, 2011 08:33 AM

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Given the intense budget negotiations taking place in Washington this week, it might not be the ideal time to drop by the Capitol to talk about the future of the energy industry. Regardless, tomorrow's the start of the third annual "DC Fly In" organized by the New England Clean Energy Council.

Council members will meet with House science & technology staffers; the Republican Policy Committee; the Democratic Steering & Outreach Committee; and Senate majority leader Harry Reid's office. And they'll get face time with Department of Energy reps as well, including staffers from the department's ARPA-E group (the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, which has showered Massachusetts start-ups with money.)

Among the NECEC council members who are participating in this year's fly-in are Mike Decelle of Sun Catalytix; Barry Fougere of BigBelly Solar; Tim Healy of EnerNOC; John Joyce of Ambient Corporation; Jim Matheson of Flagship Ventures; and Dhiraj Malkani of Rockport Capital.

Peter Rothstein, head of the NECEC, writes in an opinion piece that it's significant the group is visiting Washington amidst the battle over the federal budget. "It is critical that we distinguish between sensible spending cuts and reckless disinvestment in our clean economy future," Rothstein writes. "...The budget must reflect a coherent long-term investment strategy that prioritizes energy innovation." In particular, Rothstein worries about the future of the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

While the New England delegation is in town, the Brookings Institution will release a new report, "Sizing the Clean Economy," which estimates that the "clean economy" now employs more people than the fossil fuel industry or bioscience.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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