25 March 2009

Energy Expert Sees a Perfect Storm of Opportunity in US Mid-Atlantic Region

Tom Tuffey, an energy expert with 35 years in the environmental field, spoke to a rapt crowd of 225 clean energy enthusiasts at the REBN, Mid-Atlantic's second event last night.

Tuffey, who runs the energy and environment practice at PennFuture, talked about a perfect storm of opportunity, incentives, and capital coming into the region's burgeoning clean tech sector.

The crowd, gathered in the upstairs room of Maia Restaurant in Villanova, PA, consisted of entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers who hope to benefit from the scenario Tuffey described.

"You need to be vigilant," Tuffey cautioned. "Lest your boat spring a leak or get swamped by the sea of competitors in this storm."

As an example of what Tuffey sees in terms of opportunity is the region's nascent solar development.

"We're behind on solar," Tuffey said. "But I believe solar installations in the state will grow from the current 600-700 to 13,000-14,000 in the next few years."

State legislation passed last year, designed to reduce electricity demand in Pennsylvania will also contribute to alternative energy development in the state.

"It's just coming fast and furious from every side," Tuffey said. "The opportunity is tremendous and you need to figure out your piece of it, concentrate on that, and be diligent."

Those who do, Tuffey suggested, will thrive.

Many in the crowd hope to be among those who thrive. And their excitement was palpable as Tuffey reported a litany of numbers that grew to upwards of a billion dollars in alternative-energy and efficiency investments he expects to pour into the state over the next few years.

This is a perfect storm that stands to raise all boats, according to Tuffey, from the entrepreneurs in the room to the guys with hammers and caulking guns Tuffey met with earlier in the day.

"It's a terrific opportunity for the region and a great thing to see," Tuffey concluded.

The Renewable Energy Business Network (REBN), Mid-Atlantic Chapter, was launched in February to help build networking opportunities and build momentum for the clean tech sector throughout the region. (For more info, visit http://rebn.org/mid-atlantic)

[Disclosure: The author is the co-Chair/founder of the REBN, Mid-Atlantic Chapter and serves on its board.]