I’m not sure what Arun would have done if he had four days? This conference is the most aspirational event I’ve been to in a long long time. This morning’s keynotes were simply awesome. Speakers were Ursula Burns, Susan Hockfield, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Rep. Chaka Fattah, Senator Chris Coons, Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Poneman, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. The highlight was the before-lunch speaker, President Bill Clinton.
Key themes that came from today’s list of speakers were education, immigration, creating demand in the Federal Government, driving down costs so that any new technology does not need subsidies.
President Clinton was charming, witty, and really connected on energy matters. He’s not a domain expert on energy, but what he cited in terms of the benefits to people, the impact to jobs of energy fixing, and some historical perspective and climate change were remarkable. He beautifully connected it all to real world stories about people. For example, he discussed how capturing gas from landfills and cleaning them up or restructuring them with local labor helps everyone nearby.
After President Clinton’s conference address, he came to a separate room to meet with all the students attending the conference, 82 of them from 30 universities, representing all the energy clubs in all many American universities. Clinton took questions for over an hour demonstrating further his connection with energy and people and how it all matters to all parts of American society.
I hope you all will visit the ARPA-E site soon and see some of these incredible presentations.