By Leslie Kaufman, Inside Climate News.
For proponents of clean energy, the Donald Trump administration already seems like a nightmare. In the worst moment so far, Trump surrounded himself with coal miners and signed an executive order last week that aims to rescind former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan. That regulation would have continued to move the power industry away from coal-burning plants and toward wind and solar farms.
So is Washington trying to kill the renewable energy revolution? Jeff Tannenbaum and Jigar Shah don't believe that's possible. They were both involved with a company called sPower, which has built and operates 150 utility-scale solar and wind power projects across the U.S. and the U.K. It was sold in February to giant utility AES Corporation for $1.6 billion—one of the biggest deals ever in the green energy industry.
Tannenbaum and Shah say that deal is just one of many that prove the shift away from fossil fuels is inevitable, whatever the political climate and no matter who is in the White House.
Tannenbaum is the founder of Fir Tree Partners, a private investment firm with $10 billion under management. His clients are endowments, pension funds and foundations, and he did not make his bet on sPower because he is an environmental activist. He said his primary goal is to make good long-term investments. Fir Tree acquired sPower three years ago for the most traditional of reasons—because Tannenbaum saw a potentially booming market for clean power companies.
In contrast, Shah, owner of a firm called Generate Capital, has been a renewables advocate for decades. His company provides financing for commercial-scale renewable energy generation projects, heating equipment retrofits, energy storage, urban farms and wastewater treatment technologies. He was a founder of solar energy pioneer SunEdison, is the author of the book "Creating Climate Wealth," and had been on the board of directors of sPower since 2014.