Ken Berlin: Transitioning to a Clean Energy Economy

Ken Berlin is General Counsel of the Coalition for Green Capital (a DC non-profit that exists to advocate for tax and finance policies that support investment in energy efficiency and clean energy).  He is the past head of the Environmental and Climate Change Practices of the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom law firm.  He is a Special Policy Advisor to Daniel Esty, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection.

As part of the WCTA monthly forum series, Mr. Berlin addressed a WCTA breakfast on July 14, 2011.

This presentation can be seen in a special video format that combines the video with the slide presentation.  Click here.

Mr. Berlin highlighted the problems at the state and federal levels in funding clean technology.  He offered four basic steps that will be required to create a clean energy economy:

  • Step 1 – Reduce Electric Power Sector Emissions:  Close the Coal Plants
  • Step 2 – Replace Coal Plants
  • Step 3 – Increase Energy Efficiency
  • Step 4 – Increase Deployment of Clean Energy -making alternative energy suitable for marketplace competition, by cutting costs

Mr. Berlin suggested that many coal plants will be replaced with natural gas plants that could reduce CO2 emissions by 15%.  The third step is to increase energy efficiency by overcoming financial barriers at the state and federal levels.  McKinsey speculates that doing so could reduce emissions by 25-30%.  The fourth step is to increase clean-energy power generation, which will require low-cost long-term financing.

Mr. Berlin advocates the notion of the ‘Green Bank.’  Essentially, the Green Bank provides capital needed for clean energy projects.  Mr. Berlin suggests a hybrid for-profit or a not-for- profit low-risk institution designed to safely leverage public dollars into massive private cleantech investments.  Green Bank legislation was recently passed in Connecticut.

Will the same idea work in Washington State?

Thanks to WCTA Members Chris Ajemian, JD, MA, (Principal, Chris Ajemian Consulting) and Patrick Drum, CFA, CFP (Financial Advisor | Senior Portfolio Manager, The Arbor Group/UBS Financial Services) for organizing this meeting.

View the presentation slides here.