Chris Ajemian Consulting
Coalition for Green Capital
Financing and funding is top of mind for any emerging cleantech program or startup company. We recently sat down with Chris Ajemian to find out his thoughts on green capital and the creation of a Washington State Green Bank.
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You have an impressive and diverse background spanning several different facets of the cleantech sector. How has your career culminated into the creation of Chris Ajemian Consulting?
I started my career as a corporate lawyer, but soon turned to presidential politics. I participated in U.S. presidential campaigns for John Kerry in 2004 and President Obama in both 2008 and 2012 – first in foreign policy and homeland security, but then gradually began moving into energy policy. That led me to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. While there, I found myself writing an article on a natural gas pipeline design I had for Northeast Asia. It was clear that I had officially switched fields. From there, I began focusing on clean technology clients here in Washington State.
Can you give us a brief overview of Chris Ajemian Consulting? What’s your current focus and what services do you provide?
Chris Ajemian Consulting helps technology firms grow their business by helping them seek revenue, structure their products, find partners, remove non-technical obstacles and get government assistance. I’m a business development and government affairs consultant who works with engineers and scientists, helping them span both worlds.
You’re a strong advocate for creating a Green Bank in Washington. What’s your vision for a Washington State Green Bank?
For the past several years, I have been the Washington State representative for the D.C.-based Coalition for Green Capital, a national nonprofit that advances the development of state entities that provide low-cost finance for clean technology projects. Many states have already devised their own “green banks.” Based on the Connecticut Clean Technology Financial Authority model, a green bank would provide risk reduction loans for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for residential and commercial customers.
If we involve the private sector, the deployment of renewables and energy efficiency can be accelerated. Here in Washington, I’ve targeted the Clean Energy Fund’s revolving loan program as a potential source of funding for an entity of our own. Private banks have also asked for state assistance in aiding entrepreneurs. There’s a tremendous upside if we can get something established and working.
Can you share any past/recent projects or programs that our readers would find interesting?
Two years ago, I helped the Cleantech Alliance put on a national energy policy conference here in Seattle. It brought together a number of very notable people, including former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy and Operations Sharon Burke and Governor Jay Inslee. One of the most interested revelations of the conference was that our cleantech community in Washington State and the Pentagon had strongly overlapping goals for clean energy and conservation. There is still a lot of work to be done, but that understanding continues to open new doors for Washington State’s cleantech industry.
What clean technologies and trends are you tracking professionally and personally?
Quite a few, including Washington State’s smart grid ecosystem, natural gas, nuclear fusion and hydrogen distribution.
You travel the state to fuel your mountain climbing passion. What’s your favorite climbing location?
I’ve been spending a lot of time in the North Cascades recently. There are a number of beautiful peaks close to the Canadian border. You have to be careful though, Washington State has a small grizzly population up there.