Investing In Clean Energy Start-Ups

Monday, June 18, 2007

Many of the state's best and brightest leaders in clean energy met in San Francisco today. Among them, veterans of energy conservation and the newest innovators. It's all courtesy of an unlikely source, PG&E.

The high-performance Tesla electric car was on display outside PG&E's San Francisco headquarters today.

Elon Musk, Tesla Motors Chairman: "It's faster than any Ferrari currently in production -- 3.9 seconds zero-to-60. I think only the Enzo is faster."

As part of its bankruptcy settlement with the PUC, PG&E was required to establish a fund for investing in clean energy start-ups in PG&E's territory.

It's called the Calfornia Clean Energy Fund, or CALCEF. Its first conference was today in San Francisco.

CALCEF has invested in Tesla. Chairman Elon Musk, who also founded PayPal, was there.

Elon Musk: "It is intended as a high performance sports car in the same league as Porsche 911, or a Ferrari really, and for what it does, it's actually extremely good value for the money."

It starts at about $98,000 dollars. Musk points out that federal tax credits get it down to about $90,000 dollars. But he says the value is in the savings at the pump. While gas prices continue to rise, three dollars worth of electricity will drive the car for more than 200 miles.

Elon Musk: "The Tesla is still going to cost three or four dollars to recharge and go the same distance as you'd pay maybe, $100 dollars or $120 dollars, to go in a gasoline car. So there it really starts to make compelling economic sense."

State Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld was a U.C. Berkeley physicist during the oil crisis of the seventies. He led research to try to find a way out of it. His innovations include more efficient fluorescent lighting.

He thinks there is no clean energy silver bullet to head off global warming, but new technologies will get us about halfway there.

Art Rosenfeld, State Energy Commissioner: "There is a big potential in energy efficiency, and that plus some serious energy tax eventually ought to do the trick for us."

CALCEF has more than $50 million dollars to invest.

You can watch all of our interview with the chairman of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, below:

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