Building Our Clean Tech Capital

I am working in Congress to help transform Sacramento into the “Clean Tech Capital” and help America lead in clean energy. My roles on the Energy and Commerce Committee and as co-chair of the High Tech Caucus have provided me a platform to continue to push for our nation’s energy independence. I am pleased to let you know that I was also recently elected a Vice-Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, and I am excited to continue working with my colleagues on this coalition to fight for legislation that makes a real difference for our clean energy sector and ensures our role as environmental stewards.

I continue to meet with our local clean energy leaders to hear what type of support they could use from the federal government. With this in mind, I have two bills pending in Congress that, if enacted, would help Sacramento’s clean energy companies grow. First, my Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Act (H.R. 502) would provide for a national assistance program to promote American clean energy technology exports in order to support growing clean technology companies and create jobs. This bill was passed by the House with bipartisan support in July 2011, during the 111th Congress, and I am hopeful it will become law during this Congress.

In talking with local businesses, I have also heard how they are struggling in this economy to gain access to capital, and the clean energy sector is having a particularly difficult time. In March, I introduced the Small Business Clean Energy Financing Act (H.R. 4185), legislation that will assist clean energy small businesses with gaining access to financing. My bill will create a set aside specifically for clean energy businesses within the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 7(a) loan program. This is needed because, while the SBA provides roughly $13 billion in 7(a) loans annually, only a small portion goes to clean energy businesses. This is a major discrepancy that my legislation would help fill.

A couple weeks ago I had another good opportunity to hear from local clean energy businesses, as it was the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s annual Cap-to-Cap Program in Washington. For my meeting with the “Clean and Green Team,” I invited Steven Chalk, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy, to attend. Steven has spent over two decades at the Department of Energy, and, prior to his current role, served as the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Chief Operating Officer, leading the office’s Recovery Act implementation. As we know, the Recovery Act has been our nation’s largest ever one-time investment in clean energy, and helped spur Sacramento’s clean energy sector.

Cap_to_Cap_Clean_EnergyCongresswoman Matsui hosts Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy, Steven Chalk, at the Cap-to-Cap Clean and Green Team meeting.

In Steven’s current role as Deputy Assistant Secretary, he is responsible for directing the Department of Energy’s annual investments of more than $800 million in renewable energy sources. Because of Steven’s extensive knowledge of the Recovery Act and his position directing clean energy funds, it was great to get him in a room with our clean energy leaders. I felt that our meeting was very productive and helped build relationships that will be useful for years to come.

Around the same time that week, Sacramento hosted the Green California Summit. This event, held at the Convention Center, attracted thousands to our region from all over the state, and was a great venue to bring together clean energy innovators to discuss our state’s green future.

Sacramento is making real progress towards becoming a clean energy leader – not just for our state, but for our country. Between the commitment of our local universities, businesses, and utilities, we are positioned to lead in this area, and I look forward to continuing to work to get us there.