Sparking New Ideas for the Clean Energy Revolution at the Tom Tom Founders Festival

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Industry experts descend on Charlottesville, VA to chart a path to a bright renewable energy future.

The Clean Energy Conference was held yesterday as part of the Tom Tom Founders Festival in Charlottesville, VA and featured a full day of workshops, presentations, and keynotes from the most influential leaders in the energy space. Government officials and industry experts from all over the east coast gathered to discuss energy policy in Virginia, the future of storage, how corporate demand is changing the energy equation, and more.

The Conference, held at the Violet Crown Theater, represents the first time that Tom Tom has dedicated a full day of programming to the clean energy revolution. During the conference, a special luncheon interview was held to discuss the next twenty-five years in energy with industry icon Jigar Shah, founder of SunEdison, and Co-Founder of Generate Capital.

“Are we on track, is that curve bent in the right direction of where we want to go? It is not,” said Mr. Shah. “We all have to do way more to get to where we want to go. But I am inspired every day by all the people that are here, who are working tirelessly to make it happen. And I think we have enough people power to get there. So, it keeps me optimistic.”

With Microsoft’s recent announcement that they will be adding 315MW of new solar power in Virginia in the largest corporate solar agreement in the United States, corporate commitments to clean energy was a hot topic and focus of a session led by Roger Ballentine, President of Green Strategies and former Chairman of the White House Climate Change Task Force and Deputy Assistant to the President for Environmental Initiatives.

“I think whereas policy used to be the main driver in renewable energy, it is not anymore. It is corporate demand. Corporates want this,” said Mr. Ballentine. “They’re willing to pay for it. They don’t have to pay a premium anymore. They just need access to it. This is the major driver we are dealing with right now, and I think that it’s the accelerant that the renewable energy industry is looking for in places like Virginia that haven’t traditionally been on the cutting edge of clean energy. You’ve now got your employers and the major players in your economy saying ‘we want this.’ And it’s beginning to work here, so I’m very optimistic about Virginia.”

Charlottesville-based Sun Tribe Solar was the presenting sponsor for the day, helping to shape the Conference’s content and bring in representatives from industry powerhouses.

“To have the country’s preeminent experts gather in our city to chart the future of energy is further proof that Charlottesville is leading the renewable energy movement in Virginia and destined to be the clean energy hub of the southeast,” said Devin Welch, co-founder of Sun Tribe Solar.

The day concluded with a focus on Charlottesville’s vision for its sustainability and how it can be an example to the state and the east coast.

“Today was a great conversation about the future for climate action for Charlottesville,” said Grey McLean, founder of the Charlottesville Climate Collaborative. “Ultimately, the broader Cville community must look at itself and decide what it wants. Do we want to lead or follow in this defining moment? It is ours for the taking, but we, as a whole community, have to engage.”

Footage from the interview with Jigar Shah at the Clean Energy Conference can be found here: https://youtu.be/ALyxIoN0B2M. The Tom Tom Founders Festival continues through tomorrow, Sunday, April 15th.

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Angela Batten
Sun Tribe Solar, LLC
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