Orange County is Looking Pretty Green.

by Susan Frank, Director, California Business Alliance for a Green Economy

Hybrid Hummer greets attendees of Cleantech OC Conference

Hybrid Hummer greets attendees of Cleantech OC Conference

My colleague, Ruben Aronin (assistant director of the California Business Alliance for a Green Economy), had the privilege of joining hundreds of Southern California business and government leaders at the CleanTech OC 2012 Conference and Expo . They convened to discuss the latest green trends and developments, including the future of water, the smart grid, renewable energy, and clean cars. Featured speakers included Richard Kauffman, Senior Advisor to the US Secretary of Energy; Tom Steyer, Co-managing Partner of Farallon Capital and Co-chair of the No on Proposition 23 campaign; and Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster.

Ruben relayed to me that he was pleasantly reminded about the robust and growing group of businesses in the Los Angeles area’s South Bay that are bullish about creating and deploying clean energy solutions. These companies provide products and services to customers throughout the region and around the world.

The annual conference showed off the diversity of Orange County businesses and entrepreneurs that are helping to create and grow a more sustainable future. They included everything from hybrid hummer engine manufacturers, solar manufacturers and installers, super-efficient lighting companies, environmentally-friendly cleaners, enthusiastic UC Irvine students promoting their hydrogen fuel station, and scientists promoting new waste-to-energy technologies.

Many of the discussions at the conference focused on financing barriers to aggressively growing cleaner transportation and energy generation. A common theme among the speakers was how technological innovations of the 21st century, including renewable energy and cleaner vehicles, are ready to be deployed, but are being held back by inadequate 20th century financial tools. The problem is that these financial tools do not have the flexibility to provide attractive financing that would spur investment capital. Scaling up the green economy desperately requires the deployment of a modern grid and alternative fueling infrastructure, which can only be done with proper capital investment.

Despite these challenges, the two dozen plus presenters and hundreds of participants were quite excited about the growing business prospects for innovative, leading cleantech companies. Kudos to CleanTech OC for leading the way in the region and helping to turn Orange County into Green County.

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