By: Ron Pernick
As I write this column, the end of summer is rearing its head. I can't complain though. This summer we got away on two local family trips (neither one farther than 165 miles from our house) - one to the mountainous, high desert region around Bend, Oregon, and the other to the majestic coast near Manzanita, Oregon. For both trips, I completely unplugged. No computer, no Internet - just me, my family, and the sounds of laughter, the wind, hawks, and heron. And for the first time since my twins were born more than two years ago, I even read a novel cover to cover (a great book btw, The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga). This summer my family also got to enjoy a bounty of Pacific Northwest fruit - from the first crop of strawberries in late May/early June through to the blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and now all of the great stone fruits. Last night my wife and I had what must have been the best plum pie I've ever eaten. It's also been an unusually hot summer. The thermometer in Portland hit 90 degrees or higher 20 times and broke 100 degrees on three occasions. It was one for the record books. But for all the joys of summer and slowing down, I feel I've had my full share of summer fruits, family road trips, summer visitors, and climate-change induced heat. I feel sated. You might call it the Portland curse, but I'm even beginning to miss the rain. Now, don't get me wrong. We've worked hard this summer as well. The team at Clean Edge is just putting the wraps on a new stock index; we have a new report coming out in early October focused on the topic of clean-tech jobs (See EDITOR'S NOTE below on how you can help); and we are in full gear planning for our upcoming Clean-Tech Investor Summit in January. And like many of you, we've had to push hard all summer to survive in difficult times. Clean Edge relies heavily on sponsorships for its reports, web site, newsletter, and Summit. Thankfully, we have a lot of returning and new sponsors to support our work - folks that we hope you'll tap throughout the year as you look for service providers in law, accounting, PR, human resources, research, consulting, and other critical areas. But it's been a challenging environment to say the least. But with the return of school, cooler weather, and shorter days, I'm ready to jump back into work full force and with near singular attention. There's a lot to get done. At Clean Edge we have the aforementioned events to produce, reports to write, publications and online services to manage. In the broader world, there are critical events taking shape that deserve the attention of anyone involved in clean tech. -- The energy/climate bill in the U.S. Congress needs to be worked on and moved through the House and Senate. There are no guarantees in today's D.C. environment. A lot of work will need to be done to reconcile bills and get something that's worthy of the president's signature. -- Billions of stimulus dollars are finally starting to make their way into the economy - from the popular and now ended Cash for Clunkers program to energy efficiency grants. If you work in fields related to stimulus dollars, you've been busy this summer and hopefully will be in a good position as more stimulus dollars start to flow. -- New regulations are being proposed at every level of government - from local city ordinances and regional financing programs (see my colleague Dexter Gauntlett's recent piece on regional and state energy efficiency bonds and financing mechanisms) to new federal mandates that could dramatically change the clean-energy landscape. -- Financing hurdles need to be overcome in a still relatively credit- constrained environment. Just about all the startups I know, along with some large corporations, are restructuring their organizations or reevaluating their growth strategies to make it through these very challenging times. I just looked at some long-range weather forecasts for Portland. It seems that, in our neck of the woods at least, we still have some pretty warm days left - which seems appropriate. Global warming aside, I think things are just heating up on the clean-tech frontier. So, I hope you had a great summer and are feeling refreshed. Based on my barometer reading, I think you'll need it. ------- Ron Pernick is cofounder and managing director of Clean Edge, Inc. and coauthor of The Clean Tech Revolution. EDITOR'S NOTE: Please help us in our research for the "Clean Tech Job Trends 2009" report by participating in our first annual clean- tech job salary survey (conducted with PayScale, Inc.). If you have a job in clean tech or are looking for one, please take this survey now/by September 8. Your participation will enable us to provide the latest data in our upcoming report.