TREIA Board of Directors
Jeff Clark has worked within the public affairs arena for nearly 30 years in both public and private capacities. With experiences extending from the nation’s statehouses, to Washington, DC; he has developed a unique expertise, revitalizing and rebuilding governmental affairs teams to efficiently and aggressively deliver results for their clients.
In his current role, he is Executive Director of The Wind Coalition, the leading organization advocating for renewable energy within the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Jeff manages a team of technical and policy experts working to educate the public and lawmakers on renewable energy and to support state policies that will facilitate wind and solar energy’s continued development and integration.
Raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC, Jeff is a 6th generation Texan and returned to West Texas as a college student. He attended Abilene Christian University where he studied Political Science. He is currently pursuing a masters degree in energy policy at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. He and his wife, Judge Elisabeth Earle, reside in Austin and have two teenage daughters.
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ARTICLE: JANUARY 2019
TREIA Advisory Board Member Jeff Clark: Advocating for Renewables From Canada to Mexico
By Peter Kelly-Detwiler - Storyteller in Residence
Trying to catch up with Jeff Clark isn’t easy. As president of the Advanced Power Alliance, Jeff’s got a million things to do, especially lately as the entire advanced energy ecosystem of his region continues to heat up. Consider the fact that December of last year saw a record 19,200 MW of wind generation power the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) system on November 12. Meanwhile, just to the north, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) punched in a week later with its new high wind mark of 16,400 MW, and one April hour last year wind supplied 64% of all the energy in SPP’s system. And both ISOs’ renewable interconnection queues are pretty full as well, boding well for the years to come.
And that’s just wind. There are also gains being made in solar and storage, with more room to grow. So the Advanced Power Alliance has its work cut out for it, advocating for members across multiple states in both power markets, lobbying in capitols across the region to expand critical transmission capacity, defending important tax and siting policies necessary for fair treatment of renewables, and helping set the record straight when opponents play loose with the facts.
The Advanced Power Alliance
When I finally did catch up with Clark, he was on foot, off to his next meeting as we spoke. He recalled that the Advanced Power Alliance started out as the Texas Wind Coalition, focusing on wind development just in Texas. As members decided to expand into neighboring SPP, the organization became The Wind Coalition.
However, with many members active in solar and energy storage as well, last September the group determined that it needed to advocate more broadly for sustainable energy suppliers across the spectrum. To reflect that vision, it ultimately changed its name to the Advanced Power Alliance.
The passion he exhibited during our conversation was contagious, especially his enthusiasm for the emerging energy storage industry. Clark is excited about the role of storage in creating new opportunities to integrate renewables. The challenge is “truly figuring out all the ways storage is going to increase penetration for renewables while enhancing reliability, resiliency, and affordability.” His team has recently engaged a research assistant to investigate these issues, with a particular focus on the opportunities to deploy second-life electric vehicle batteries.
While there’s enormous potential to move the clean energy needle, Clark commented that it’s also challenging in this region of the country, where the government support that one might find in California or the Northeast is largely missing. “We are in the middle of a dramatic technological transformation in energy, just like we’ve seen in most other aspects of our economy. As that happens, and with the demand for clean energy on the rise, those of us who work in policy could find no more meaningful area to work that in renewables. And, if you wanted to pursue that work where it’s most needed and most challenging, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more challenging region than this.”
He indicated that part of that challenge is caused by a growing effort in the fossil fuel industry to hinder progress of the new energy economy. He sees it as an intentional delaying game, deliberately fueled by misinformation supplied by a few well-funded parties, and stated, “Everybody knows where the energy market is headed. Regardless of the rhetoric, technology and economics are going to win… cleaner and cheaper win. Our opponents don’t prevail but every delay is a financial windfall to them. They’re on the run and we’re the ones fighting for energy consumers, for cleaner air, and for reliable affordable power.”
The Value of TREIA
With the Advanced Power Alliance being its own membership-driven organization, why align with TREIA and join the Advisory Board? Clark was keen to point out the unique roles that TREIA plays in the Texas energy landscape, and cited both its storied past as well as its reputation for credibility. He noted that TREIA was one of the first organizations that “convened all of the different technologies and different stakeholders, including environmental groups, consumers, and the energy development community.”
He commented that, decades ago, the original founders of TREIA “were thinking about what Texas could do. This state has plenty of sun and plenty of wind, and those folks were getting together when renewable technologies were a novelty thinking about how we could make the future happen first in Texas. They knew back in the 70s and 80s where the game would end. To those of us playing the latter innings of this game, some of these people are legends.”
Clark noted that TREIA’s reputation is powerful, with a pedigree of some of the best energy thinkers in the state. Its role in communicating the value proposition of renewables is critical, he commented, since it, “helps push the discussion about where we are headed next, and makes certain that the promise of renewables is conveyed to the public. TREIA is a credible organization because of its diverse voices. It speaks across the renewable energy ecosystem and can speak about reliable power, environmental benefits, and affordability.”
Clark’s goal on the Advisory Board is to help bring the diverse voices of industry to the TREIA table – the developers, equipment manufacturers, and companies researching new technologies, speaking on behalf of corporate interests.
His hope this coming year is that TREIA can continue the work it is doing in education of the public, in part to counteract “an unprecedented assault on renewables funded by dark money that is flowing into Texas…with the credibility that TREIA has established as people who actually know what they are talking about.”
“The future of Texas is cleaner, cheaper power delivered using renewable energy, natural gas, and energy storage. Those opposing us don’t like the shift to this cleaner power, but they’ve already lost,” he asserted. “We know how this game ends. We just have to keep the pressure on until the whistle blows.”