The Renewable Energy Business Network, Mid-Atlantic Chapter (REBN) held its third event tonight, a sold-out show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center here in Philadelphia. The event was held in onjunction with the PV America Expo, hosted by Solar Energy Industries Association.
Pennsylvania's newly appointed Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, John Hanger, addressed the crowd, which represented a good mix of entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers working in the clean tech and renewable energy space.
Hanger spoke about the availability of state and federal funding for projects and companies in this sector and the importance of business leaders in the sector to speak up in the debate about the new green economy.
"There are some who would dismiss this movement," Hanger said. "And they have loud voices and large audiences. You must counteract their statements with facts."
Hanger also advocated for individuals to rally in support of things like House Bill 80, which would increase the proportion of electricity that electric distribution companies must purchase from renewable sources such as wind and solar to 20 percent by 2026.
But a show of hands through the crowd revealed that the community has a long way to go to influencing broader policies.
"You need to get to know the decision makers and let them know what's on your mind, that your businesses support Bill's like HR 80 -- the opposition is just to loud and has the ear of many in power."
He also shared his optimism for the region as a clean tech hub, suggesting that expanding Pennsylvania's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards is a step in the right direction.
"Why wouldn't you want to get behind this, if it means jobs and revenue," Hanger remarked.
The Renewable Energy Business Network Mid-Atlantic Chapter enables business professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs and investors to connect with one another and to promote the growth of the renewable energy industry.
It hopes to catalyze efforts in the region and to spur further development in this sector. REBN believes the Mid-Atlantic region is poised to play a significant role in renewable energy, clean tech, and energy efficiency innovations in the years to come.
(Disclosure: I am a Founding Member of the Board of REBN Mid-Atlantic)