Former President Bill Clinton stepped onto the stage at ARPA-E’s third annual Energy Innovation Summit to a standing ovation. He started off by reminding the tech-savvy crowd that he was “famously technologically challenged.” He then reflected on his position of being a former president, adding, “One of the saddest things about being a former president is no one might care what you think.”
For Bill Clinton, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth. The ballroom was packed with a receptive crowd of innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists and policymakers. Everyone wanted to hear what he had to say.
Despite his technological handicap, Clinton delivered. He echoed the upbeat vibe that has permeated EIS 2012, but he was honest in saying that despite the exciting work being done by those in the room, there was a gap between the trendlines of moving toward cleaner energy at lowering costs and the headlines that play into partisan politics.
He didn’t just wax poetic about the state of the energy economy — he also offered concrete solutions, including one to finance and build interstate transmission, capturing rapidly dispersing greenhouse gases for energy, and tips on how to move forward to grab the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency.