Experts Only Podcast #125: with Lynn Abramson, Expert in Understanding the State of Clean Energy

Happy Women’s History Month!

Welcome to the show Lynn Abramson, President of the Clean Energy Business Network.

Lynn and her organization annually release a report on the state of clean energy, which dives into the numbers of how we are impacting states at the local level for jobs, investment, and deployment.

Tune in to hear Lynn and Jon’s conversation around advocacy, the industry’s impact, and challenges we are facing.

Check out the report at Read more from The Business Council for Sustainable Energy here: 10 States Leading the Clean Energy Transition.

Thank you Lynn for being on the show, and thank you for listening!




Jon Powers (00:02):

Welcome back to Experts Only. I’m your host, John Powers. I’m the co-founder of Clean Capital and serve as President Obama’s Chief Sustainability Officer. On this podcast, we explore solutions to climate change by talking to industry leaders about the intersection of energy, innovation and finance. You can get more


Welcome back to Experts Only. I’m your host, John Powers, and today we are speaking to Lynn Abramson, who’s the president of the Clean Energy Business Network. Lynn and her organization put out a phenomenal report every year on the state of clean energy or really dives into the numbers of how we are impacting at the local level for states, for jobs, for investment, for deployment. Lynn and I have a really wide ranging conversation around advocacy, the impact that we are having as an industry, some of the challenges we’re facing. I hope you enjoy it. You should definitely check out the, and as always, you can get more Enjoy. Lynn, welcome to Experts Only.

Lynn Abramson (01:04):

Great. Thanks so much for having me, John.

Jon Powers (01:06):

Absolutely. So as we were talking offline, you grew up in New York. You ended up going to school in Boston or biology. Was there a part of you growing up that was super interested in the environment or climate, or did that develop through your studies?

Lynn Abramson (01:20):

Yeah, actually ever since I was about 11, I had decided that I wanted to be an oceanographer. Wow. Which is a dream a lot of 11-year-old girls have, but many out does out. Yeah. Well, maybe she will be, but I actually went through with it. So this actually, it came out of science fiction. I had read a book by Madeline Langle, who’s known for A Wrinkle in Time, and she had this book called A Ring of Endless Light that was about marine biologists. Of course, they’re telepathically communicating with dolphin. So I decided that’s what I want to do when I grow up, obviously. But I stuck with it. I did a lot of science in high school camps, et cetera. I was incredibly popular as you can see. And then went to college for biology with specialization in marine science, and then right after college went to do a PhD at Stony Brook University in oceanography. My interest had evolved a bit from the telepathic communication with Dolphin into

Jon Powers (02:26):

I wish You To That path. Yeah,

Lynn Abramson (02:28):

Well that is side Hobby, hobby, so I do pursue that in my free time.

Jon Powers (02:32):

Alright, good.

Lynn Abramson (02:33):

Yeah, so I got interested in the carbon cycle in college through some of the classes I was taking and reading some of these studies and ended up doing my work in, it was mostly kind of chemistry, but it’s in this field of biogeochemistry, which is a fancy word for looking at the cycling of elements through biology, through rocks, through minerals, through the seawater, through the air, et cetera. And just trying to understand better through my research and studies, some of the natural sinks in the ocean for carbon, some of the ways the ocean stores carbon dioxide helps to mitigate climate change. But in the process, I’d say about second year into grad school, I said, Hmm, I’ve been wanting to do this my entire life and here I am and I love this. I meant I got to do amazing discovery channel type work, getting on research career that is doing amazing things.


But I realized that in my long-term career, I really wanted to get involved in solving some of these problems that I was researching and that researching them is incredibly important. We have to understand the basic science in order to do something about environmental problems, but I wanted to be more on that applied side. So I applied for a policy fellowship sponsored by noaa, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s called the Canals Fellowship, and it brings scientists to DC for a one year position on the hill or in agencies implementing some of their scientific background in policy. And I was placed with Senator Barbara Boxer from California, just a great placement in terms of the fact that energy infrastructure, totally environment oceans. She was super heavily involved in all of that. She was chair of the Environment of Public Works Committee. She was on the commerce committee. So it was a great experience and I ended up staying there about six years, and that really was the launch of my policy career.

Jon Powers (04:37):

Interesting. And were you still pursuing your PhD while on the hill or did you finish your PhD

Lynn Abramson (04:42):

Before? No, I finished and then basically a month and a half later started the fellowship.

Jon Powers (04:49):

Yeah, when were you at a PW?

Lynn Abramson (04:52):

So I was never in a PW. I was in her personal office. Oh, interesting. Okay. From 2008 until 2013. So that first year was my fellowship year, and I worked closely with the A PW staff on how does the Water Resources Development Act affect California or the transportation bill or what are some provisions that we need to think about in, I was on the hill during that whole cap and trade.

Jon Powers (05:17):

Yeah, I’ve

Lynn Abramson (05:18):

Been working and worked with them on some pieces of that, but really a lot of my work was focused on the oceans and public lands energy and the appropriations and sort of asks for California for those infrastructure pieces.

Jon Powers (05:34):

So my personal journey went through EPW when I was coming back. When I got out of Iraq, I got into National security and climate, and then in 2009 testified with, it was after Waxman Markey had passed and the Senate was moving the legislation and John Warner, who you knew from Pew, myself and two others, testified to the Senate the first time I’d ever testified for anything. Wow. A hundred percent happened because some Senate staffer had read a Huffington Post article I wrote, and then Warner basically adopted me after that and got me more into the advocacy space, which I had not been in. Oh, amazing. And that’s how I got involved in Pew and then ended up at the Pentagon and later at the White House. So a hundred percent because of that testimony opportunity in front of e pw. But offline will tell you the more stories of that. But that’s, yeah,

Lynn Abramson (06:21):

That’s an A-list committee to start with. No pressure there. I’ve been on the other side of the day testifying in front of Senator Boxer in some of her colleagues. It’s an intimidating experience.

Jon Powers (06:38):

It was nice. It was Warner three-star, this guy, Denny McGinney, you may know, who was a three star admiral myself, who I didn’t know any of them. And then there was an Exxon lawyer,

Lynn Abramson (06:50):


Jon Powers (06:51):

Warner clearly was his first time back to the hill, and he had just retired. So people were very focused on that, which was nice. They drew attention from me, but I thought I was going to get in trouble because in the middle of the testimony, the Exxon lawyer was talking about how we didn’t have to act until India or China was acting, and I’d just gotten back from doing all this national security work. And so I literally slapped the table and I interrupted him, and then I said, look, when’s the last time India or China sent their troops anywhere? And we got in this debate at the table, which I didn’t know you’re not supposed to do. And then afterwards, Warner literally was like, we need more of that in this fight. And then we started an organization that recruited thousands of our Iraq, Afghanistan best to advocate for climate, which we did a lot with Pew.

Lynn Abramson (07:36):

Fantastic. Yeah, I got to work with Senator Warner was in periodically in our weekly staff meetings and just super heavily involved as a senior advisor when I was at Pew.

Jon Powers (07:46):


Lynn Abramson (07:47):

Person. And we worked with De McGinn as well, what was then the Pew Project on National

Jon Powers (07:53):

With Phyllis and everyone, right?

Lynn Abramson (07:55):

Yep. Yeah, small world.

Jon Powers (07:58):

So then you went to Pew, right? And you went from the whole truly into this marriage of advocacy, I would say advocacy, science and policy maybe. What did you learn coming off the hill into an experience like that?

Lynn Abramson (08:14):

Yeah, so the reason I went to Pew specifically was that during my time on the Hill, again, I came at this from an environmental science background and wanted to work in the policy solutions. But what I saw was that business friendly, market driven approaches I thought were really critical to addressing climate change, especially in the United States. I’ve said this before in other capacities, that a lot of our energy policy has been driven by carrots in terms of incentives rather than have explored regulatory purchase. There are some in place certainly, but business is key. It’s really important and it has to be at the table. And so I felt that any sort of meaningful lasting climate solutions had to be developed collaboratively with business interests. This has now become, this was somewhat novel concept at that time. There weren’t that many organizations working at that intersection of business economy and climate.


Now this is sort of very standard, but at the time it was not as commonplace. And Pew was really leading in that effort, had done a lot of economic research on the clean energy economy and climate and how various solutions could contribute to investments and jobs. So I was really interested in that work and leading with that. And so at the time they had started during the cap and trade debate, this Clean Energy business network ly kind of spun out of some state-based research that they were doing on the clean energy economy and then developing in that into an advocacy tool on climate and clean energy. And it was kind of being managed by existing staff, but didn’t have its own lead dedicated person, and they were interested in building that out. So I came off the hill to build out this clean energy business network into an advocacy tool, and I was able to translate a lot of what I had been on the receiving end of on the Hill, what strategies I felt were effective with me, my colleagues seeing with the senators and the members of Congress and build out. We started just to do a lot of fly-ins to Washington DC in district meetings, site visits, tours.

Jon Powers (10:51):

Can I pull on that string for a second? Absolutely. Having also been on the other side of a lot of those meetings when I was at the White House or even at the Pentagon, and now coming to the other side, I think there’s a real misconception for business leaders. It could be a small business owner in Minnesota, and you’re intimidated to go to Washington and talk to a staffer, but the impact that that voice has versus just purely an industry group player or a lobbyist, it matters, right? It really makes a difference when you’re hearing, can you talk a little bit about what you saw and why that business leader voice is so critical in dc?

Lynn Abramson (11:25):

Yes, absolutely. And that really gets to the heart of what defines the Clean Energy Business Network. And it’s a good segue into explaining our organization. So long story, but we spun out of PEW in 2017 to become a nonprofit organization in our own, but we didn’t just go out into the void to establish ourselves. We did so under the parentage of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, which is a 30 year plus strong coalition of

Jon Powers (11:58):

Lisa’s been out here a number of times.

Lynn Abramson (12:00):

Absolutely, yes. So Lisa Jacobson, the president has been out here. I know Ethan ler, who has is now at Treasury, but worked with her on a lot of the research that BCSE has done has been out here. And basically they are a coalition of some of the leading sector specific trade associations and corporations in the zero and low carbon area, so renewable energy, energy efficiency, natural gas. And we had partnered with them very closely when my organization CEPN was under Pew, worked very closely together on that intersection of business, the economy climate. And so when we were looking to kind of grow and expand beyond our project within Pew, they were a good home. So we work very closely on the policy front in very coordinated way on the education, but really cater to completely separate audiences in a way. So the Clean Energy Business Network is the small business voice for the clean energy economy.


We primarily work with small business leaders, so CEOs, c-suite executives, the small businesses in clean energy providers. So these can be service or technology providers. And then also increasingly with community leaders, and I can get to that a little bit later, but really engaging voices that are not otherwise represented within the beltway. And this wasn’t the initial genesis of how CBN was set up under pew, but it evolved to become that way because these were the voices that were not already part of large treat associations such as BCSE. They were not already, they didn’t have lobbyists on the hill. They didn’t have government relations professionals tracking every single legislative or administrative development and translating that back to the company’s economic opportunities. And so these folks were hungry for that information, but they have limited budgets, staff capacity, ability to engage.

Jon Powers (14:04):

They probably don’t even policy person.

Lynn Abramson (14:05):

Exactly. And if they do, it’s on a very limited basis. They’ll sometimes hire a lobbyist on a really specific niche issue, but their voices really are important. And so we saw this at Pew and I see this consistently now when we bring these voices to Washington, either physically bringing people in or virtually through virtual meetings or sign on letters or just quotes or just helping them tell their stories. Policy makers listen, because small businesses are just authentically American. They are localized. Their impacts are localized within their communities and they really resonate in a bipartisan way. And there’s a lot of respect in this country for the small business, for the entrepreneur who’s trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and accomplish something and policy makers on both sides, they all want to support that opportunity and see these businesses flourish and grow.

Jon Powers (15:10):

And they’re likely sometimes in their district, which matters. They

Lynn Abramson (15:14):

Are, right. This is what I’m saying. They are by nature, they are local. And so I think some of the skepticism you sometimes see against corporate clean energy companies, it’s harder to have that when this is a constituent business who is employing 50 people in your district and building out some new technology and providing jobs and investment. It’s harder to have that skepticism. Especially a lot of these companies, they don’t go into clean energy because some of them go into it from an environmental perspective, but a lot of them go into it because they see there’s an economic opportunity and they’re an engineer who’s got a great idea.

Jon Powers (15:56):

Totally. And I feel like that voice in particular, not only IT local, but it takes it out of the data. You can go in and show, we’re going to get into the amazing report you guys put together, but it takes it out of the data and it’s like this is the impact we’re having in Buffalo, New York, in Minneapolis, in suburban Illinois where we have the headquarters of this company. So if

Lynn Abramson (16:16):

Humanizes the story, yeah,

Jon Powers (16:20):

Someone wants to become a member, and we often have a lot of our conversations here or a lot of our folks in the audience do want to be more active. Just not always sure how clearly go to the website, but what does it really mean to become a member? What would you all do with them?

Lynn Abramson (16:36):

Right. Well, so I will warn folks that the price of membership is very steep. It requires an email address, so very high barriers to entry, and we’ve deliberately kept it that way. So we kind of operate on a freemium model where the vast majority of the policy information, the opportunity to contribute your voice to the policy discussion, the information that we produce, and I can get more into all the types of resources we have available. Most of it is freely available. And then we also offer some very low cost subscription based met premium memberships that start at $250 a year. So very low cost that offer a greater visibility on our website and through our newsletter, et cetera, some additional events people can attend. And we had a lot of debate when we run out of Pew to come over to BCSE, which is a trade association of members that primarily can afford to participate in a trade association about keeping that accessibility and really democratizing access to participation in the policy conversation and in the market conversations. And so we have managed to attract most of the funding to support our organization through grants and contracts so that we are able to provide these services for free.


So just as an example, I mean we have a completely free US cleantech funding database where we do all that work of combing through what’s coming out in the federal register, what’s coming out in grants. So gov in various state private sector database, which

Jon Powers (18:24):

Is a ton these days after the ira. And

Lynn Abramson (18:27):

Yes, I mean I had to have a conversation with my staff the other day where I said, is this right that this many billions of dollars have appeared in our funding database because wasn’t it an order of magnitude a year ago? And yeah, there’s a ton coming out. So we call through that information. We help to distill policy programs, funding programs, as well as just new policies and make them accessible for folks that don’t speak the Washington lingo. We simplify that, demystify it. Again, we’re trying to democratize access. So how do you take advantage of these tax credits? What grants or prizes can you apply for? What are the market trends and how do you see those opportunities? Where can you meet partners in network? And we really try to make that very accessible.

Jon Powers (19:20):

That’s awesome. We’re going to have a long follow up conversation. This about us getting more active because I feel like at the local level, especially when we think about going up to plus northeast next week in Boston, and we’ll meet literally hundreds of folks that are in the industry on the ground there. And one of my personal goals this year, especially because of the election, is to help turn everyone into an advocate. So what does it mean when you can do a fly into Washington if you’re a small business owner that’s developing projects, and you can walk in, I’ll use this to transition to the report for a second, the amazing sort of state of clean energy report that Lynn and her team put out. It doubles the impact of that conversation because you’re providing really high level impactful data with the story of why this matters in their district, right? Absolutely. This voice is so critical, especially at the time we’re in right now where we’re seeing, as you said, billions moving into our industry. This once in a generational transition to a clean energy economy is happening. It’s not going to happen again. It’s happening now and we need to continue to push for the things that we care about in this space. So let’s get into the report a little bit. So the state of clean energy, this is but a series of reports that you guys have put out for how long?

Lynn Abramson (20:41):

So we are now on our fourth year of production. Love it. And it’s really a series of infographics. And if folks check out our website and look at the project, it’s meant to be very interactive. So there’s a map and you can click on that and navigate to your state. And these are two page, so if you were to print it back in the days when people printed things, one piece of paper double-sided, that tries to give a snapshot of that state’s clean energy economy. So we look at things from emissions to sources of electricity generation to ranking in the energy efficiency space, clean energy jobs, renewable energy capacity. And then we’ve added some new

Jon Powers (21:29):

At the state level. At the state level. So you can walk into Albany and have a meeting with a policymaker new and be able to show them the New York impact of what’s going on.

Lynn Abramson (21:39):

Yes, absolutely. And in fact, there’s so much data that’s out there. We’ve had to be really selective in what we can fit on this two pager. So it’s not a comprehensive story, it’s sort of like the start of the conversation of what’s going on in that state. There’s also information about federal,

Jon Powers (21:58):

Just from a data sources investment, is this similar to the data source that Lisa uses with BNEF? Is that sort of the same?

Lynn Abramson (22:04):

Yeah, so I’m glad you’re asking about it. So for your listeners background, we launched this as a state level companion project to a document that our parent organization, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy produces in partnership with Bloomberg NES. We have an

Jon Powers (22:23):

Annual interview with Ethan and Lisa on that record.

Lynn Abramson (22:26):

Yes, yes.

Jon Powers (22:27):

Hopefully people going to

Lynn Abramson (22:28):

Find someone besides Ethan to join this. Yeah,

Jon Powers (22:31):


Lynn Abramson (22:33):

But this is called a Sustainable Energy in America fact book. So I believe it’s now entering, its now is

Jon Powers (22:40):

The 13th or 14th,

Lynn Abramson (22:41):

13th year or 14th year. And I’ll say a plug, the 2024 edition of the fact book will be released on February 21st this year. And so

Jon Powers (22:53):

Let Lisa know where she’s going to be getting an email. Yeah,

Lynn Abramson (22:55):



And so that has been tracking the national level trends in deployment, investment, the technology mixes, emissions, big project announcements, et cetera, in the clean energy economy. And so basically the data for this, some of that comes from work that Bloomberg, NEF. So we acquire some of the data from Bloomberg, NEF, which helps develop that fact book, but broken down at the state level. And we supplement that with additional data from other sources. I will say their primary data sources are pretty much government based. It’s just they’re doing the work of combing through it. So there’s a lot of energy and information administration, department of energy data. We also look at sources of information like USA spending, which compiles grants that go out to various states. I will say a plug and thank you to Bipartisan Policy Center who’s helped with some of that analysis. That’s great to produce that. So a whole variety of mostly public sources, a few others, RPE Data, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranking, the annual US Energy and Employment Report, which is now returned to its previous homeowner, the Department of Energy.

Jon Powers (24:26):

But they’re true data sources, right? Yes. They’re true data sources pulled put together. And I think what’s so important to this is the trends that you guys have been able to highlight over the years. So just to hit on some of the high level numbers and a challenge, everyone to go to to get to the report itself because not something that you’re going to spend days reading, it’s something that’s going to really pop to you. And the infographs, the numbers are really key. And I use her report every year religiously. So on my stump, going to conferences, whatever. Here’s the numbers,

Lynn Abramson (25:02):

You and members of Congress, I mean, she’s been invited to testify a bunch of times because it’s a great resource.

Jon Powers (25:08):

Yeah, it’s a great resource. It’s a great resource and it’s something we should all be familiar with as you’re talking, whether it be at Thanksgiving dinner debate with your crazy uncle on climate change, or you’re going into fight at the local level on permitting in a state, which is really a critical issue right now where we’re going to places like Ohio and we’re facing fossil fuel funded campaigns to keep us from getting projects permitted. Having this type of data to supplement your argument is super powerful and something we should all be accessing and using. So a couple sort of key things, I think that you guys highlighted some really important trends. One, the construction new facilities, I’m going to get into that for a second in that piece of it. But the two ones that really were I think important to highlight is the fact that, and we talk about this a lot on the show, is that this is the most fundamental investment at a federal level in the energy transition that’s ever happened, right?


And as you said, those dollars are really just the flood gates are opening, they’re moving. So it’s important to not only understand where they’re going and how to access ’em, but how to help your community access. And I think this is really a good tool to do that. And then I think recognizing the fact that every year that this has been out, I think we have record shattering energy transition investment even in the private sector. So what was it, 141 billion this year or something like that level, which is insane and exciting. But at the global level, we need 1 trillion a year to address the climate crisis. And as a result, even with this great transition, we’re seeing emissions going back up post covid, right? Which is something that should motivate all of us to do more. Did I miss anything in the broader trends there?

Lynn Abramson (26:57):

No. I mean, I would say in terms of the emissions going back up, one caveat I guess, or clarification I would have there is that the broader trend has still been a downward trajectory in emissions. I think we did have such an unprecedented situation with covid kind of suppress and the economic suppression that occurred that some rebounding of the economy did lead. And then we certainly didn’t rebound in the most efficient manner possibly because anyone who’s walked around the streets with the plastic patios, with space heaters outside restaurants, we definitely have a ways to go. But I will say overall, I think in terms of emissions reductions and the investment in clean energy, it’s been a very positive trend. We need to go further to avoid the truly catastrophic impacts of climate change. But I like to say that when I look at the Factbook data, that it shows that the clean energy sectors are the growth sectors of the US energy economy, but also globally where we see it is true.


We are investing, we continue to invest in incumbent energy sources, but we’re seeing really the rate of growth of investment jobs where much of the new infrastructure is going is into clean energy. And so we see that a lot in the state of clean energy. We see that at the state level, and we see some of those national level trends coming out of recent policy mechanisms, translating down to the state level and generating incredible amounts of investment job growth in states that historically haven’t necessarily been at the top of the list or top of mind when you think of the feed energy economy.

Jon Powers (28:59):

So we think about the infrastructure bill, which passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, which I think surprised many of us when it was, it ended up happening. And I had a conversation the other day with someone who’s in the offtake community who works a lot with the Googles and Apples and eBays and Microsofts who are doing PPAs. And the mentality was great. This past prices are going to go down overnight and this is going to be amazing. The reality is just not the case because we’re only in the beginning of the implementation of that legislation. And you guys talk a little bit about construction slowing down if you’re a developer or you’re a policymaker at the even or state level, how do you think about the passage of the IRA and the window of time it’s going to take for us to really see the efficiencies coming into the marketplace for us to see those benefits, whether it be EV infrastructure or the actual tax credit rules written right, things like that.

Lynn Abramson (30:01):


Jon Powers (30:02):

How would you coach them to say, we expect, you expect this is going to take this much time for us to actually see the impact?

Lynn Abramson (30:09):

So I would argue we are already seeing really substantial impacts, substantial amounts of public and private sector investment and big transformations, but while also cautioning patients as we’re just at the start of it.

Jon Powers (30:26):

Yeah, I’m not disagreeing with you. I think that we’re getting the shovels in the ground, we’re getting the stuff out there, but it doesn’t mean all of a sudden that we have an efficient market around this stuff. We’re still very much in the foundation setting stages.

Lynn Abramson (30:40):

Absolutely. And a lot of the guidance in the implementation of the inflation reduction Act is still pending. It’s still coming out. We are expecting a lot of that to be released this year. And you mentioned the elections. There is pressure, I think, on the Biden administration to get some of the guidance on especially new tax credits out so that they’re not subject to the Congressional Review Act. If there is a change in administration and the bipartisan infrastructure law which passed in 2021, we are seeing a lot of those programs roll out, but they take time and some of those investments are still just being made. So I think where we first see the impact is in new public sector investments, so big grant amounts or the availability of new tax credits. And we do see some of that translating into private sector investment. But I think you’re right, that efficient markets take time and part of that is constrained by supply chain.


So you mentioned earlier the domestic solar industry, there is so much interest on a bipartisan basis and you see that reflected in these recent laws as well as the administration’s priorities in really doubling down on domestic manufacturing of clean energy and everything else, all the components that go into that, as well as everything else we rely on in our supply chain. But that does take some time. So I think it’s helpful to actually look at where we were 2009 when the cap and trade debates were being held, had a lot of the data going back. I remember that’s when a lot of the state renewable standards were enacted. That was around the time of when I started to work in the clean energy policy space. And a lot of my research has over the years looked back to that around that date. Look at where we were then and where we are now in terms of just deployment of clean energy and it’s light years difference, right? Transformation. So

Jon Powers (33:06):

Let’s take that to the next level. I actually talked, I a hundred percent aligned with you. I think there’s been, this is a much longer conversation, but four phases we’ve had that you’ve had. Interesting. And I’ll pause that for another conversation that would be another whole nother hour, but I’m actually working on a paper on this. But then if you look at the last decade, now, let’s flash forward to 2030. So all of a sudden now you have the alignment of finance, you have the alignment of policy, you have the alignment of technology. These things are in place. Let’s just ignore the election that’s happening right now and realize that a lot of this stuff’s still going to be a state level fight and we’re moving forward. So what does this report look like in 2030 when we’re having this conversation? And what are the trends that we’ve seen over that next phase of this implementation? I guess the best way to put it,

Lynn Abramson (33:56):

No, that’s a great question. And that’s kind of what I was getting at with looking backwards is when you look ahead, I think what we’re seeing is that the clean energy economy has become normalized. It’s not the fringe, fringe sectors of our economy. And I think it’s predominantly that’s where we’re seeing new investment going. Totally. And so we give examples of states that, for example, have been historically fossil energy states. West Virginia for example, has had huge spikes in investment in clean energy since the Bipartisan Structure Act and inflation reduction Act 80 million in announced investments for clean energy in 2019. And that went up to 3.8 billion as of

Jon Powers (34:51):

The first Wow. Just for West Virginia.

Lynn Abramson (34:53):

Just for West Virginia. And we see examples of that across much of the Midwest. The corn belt we jokingly say, should be the wind belt. A lot of the southeast we’re seeing new EV and battery manufacturing.

Jon Powers (35:10):

We just got ribbons in the largest solar array in Alaska ever. And we have another few hundred megawatts behind it coming in Alaska. Yeah,

Lynn Abramson (35:17):

Exactly. So this is where we’re seeing the investment going. So I kind of think what we can expect is that we will increasingly see, I mean when you look at the fact book data over the past decade, that bar that represents renewable energy out of the total national electricity generation mix has gradually been growing, whereas the fossil energy bars have been shrinking. I think we’ll continue to see that at the state level. And we are seeing that just in the four years we’ve been producing these infographics, we see major shifts. I’ll give another example. You talked about the wind bell. Iowa went from just in the past three years, the percent of electricity from renewables grew from 41% to 65%. So that’s a big change in a short time. So I’m confident we’re going to see that. What is that bar? What is that percentage?


I don’t know. It depends on how we act, but I do think we’re going to see more construction of renewable energy and clean energy than other types of energy. And we’re going to see that most of the investment goes into that. We’re going to continue to see, and not because of regulation, but because of economics, more coal plant retirements, I think there’s a lot of incentive in this legislation and just efforts to, okay, how do we repurpose some of that infrastructure? How do we revitalize some of those fields, historical communities, brown fields? And so I foresee a lot more growth in these industries and that contributing to economies of scale and scale just efficiently in how the markets operate.

Jon Powers (37:13):

To me, that last piece is a key. I think this is the decade of scale. It’s like the foundations are happening, and hopefully the next five years we’re going to see that the trend just continuing to grow. So I’m going to challenge everyone to go to and access this information one and sign up to be a member and a paying member. It’s going to help Lenon continue to be an advocate for this stuff. And one final sort of personal question, and by the way, this has been an awesome interview, so thank you so much. If you could go back to yourself before going off to study dolphins and telecommunication, it could sit down or even graduating from bu, you could sit down and have a beer with yourself, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Lynn Abramson (37:57):

Well, I don’t know if I would’ve gone to grad school and done all that work, but I don’t regret it. It’s like looking back at the work I did, I’m like, well, now that it’s in the rear rear mirror, great. I think the advice I’d give myself, which I certainly give to my own kids and to young people everywhere, is don’t try to overplan your career, your life, anything. Kind of embrace the unexpected and the surprises. Because I mean, you talked about the surprise of the inflation reduction act finally happening. We have to prepare for the directions we want to go and yet also be nimble and respond to what opportunities present themselves or just the broader dynamics. And I think that’s true at the macro level. We see that in legislation, in the markets in technology development, just there can be transformative and sudden changes. But I think at the personal level too, I mean, I know my own personal and professional journey. I’ve had lots of zigzags and two steps backward, one step forward. So I think there’s just a lot of flexibility that we have to have and being

Jon Powers (39:16):

Responsible. I was an elementary education major and now I running a finance company, which is a wild change.

Lynn Abramson (39:24):

Do you sit down with young people who say, how do we get to where you are? And I’m like, I don’t know how I got to where I

Jon Powers (39:32):

Talk to MBA programs. I have a sort of standing talk on the state of climate finance today. And it’s always like, well, I couldn’t tell you. I came back from Iraq and I was running a nonprofit working with orphans, and I’ve in Washington living in someone’s wine cellar. And then flash forward, I’m hosting a meeting at the White House outside the President’s conference room, just like I have no idea how this happened, but it has and continued to be mission oriented and keep the opportunities open when they come. Yes. How about focus in the same direction? I wanted to make an impact.

Lynn Abramson (40:07):

How about North North Star, that focus in the direction I want to make an impact, but how do I accomplish that might change over the years. Exactly. And I definitely see that at the national level as well. And I think these infographics, just to kind of bring it back to that, speak to that too, because how HC is responding to the policy and investment opportunities in front of it as well as its own resources. It really varies. And so I think that’s good advice at any level.

Jon Powers (40:42):

Well, thank Lynn. Thank you so much. One more time, folks. Go to to access the report, but also to become a member. Specifically want to thank Andy Barnes from your team to help put this together. And Colleen Young, who’s one of our producers here at Clean Capital, you can always go to clean to get more episodes of experts only. And thank you so much for joining us.

Lynn Abramson (41:05):

Thank you so much for having us. Thank you.

Jon Powers (41:07):