Understanding Climate Policy and Funding

We are excited to partner with Climate Cabinet, an organization committed to helping local leaders run, win, and legislate on the climate crisis. Join OpenGrants CEO, Sedale Turbovsky, and Climate Cabinet Executive Director, Caroline Spears, for a discussion on climate policy and the role that private businesses and individuals can play in supporting progressive climate action.

This session is perfect for startups and individuals looking to understand how to take action around climate change. We will be discussing the role policy plays in driving grant funding for climate action and the important role people and private companies play in shaping policy decisions.

In This 1-Hour Session, We Covered:

  • How to productively engage in policy creation as a private business or person
  • The role local leaders play in climate action and policy creation
  • Understanding the public sector incentive structure
  • Resources for tracking and engaging in policy creation

About the Speakers

Sedale Turbovsky, Co-Founder & CEO, OpenGrants
Sedale Turbovsky is the CEO and co-founder of OpenGrants, a venture-backed startup focused on building modern infrastructure for funding. He has been an entrepreneur since childhood. After honing his leadership skills as an outdoor guide in his younger years, he started his professional career as an independent consultant focused on delivering data products and digital strategies to enterprise clients in South America. He is experienced in independent grant writing and public/private partnerships at the highest level, having worked directly with OpenGrants’ current strategic partner, Momentum.

Caroline Spears, Executive Director, Climate Cabinet
Caroline Spears is the Executive Director of Climate Cabinet, which helps candidates run, win and legislate on the climate crisis. Climate Cabinet has built the largest database of climate and political action in the country, and uses this to create climate wins at every level of government. Caroline has been recognized as a Grist 50 “Fixer,” on CNN, and as part of the New Media Ventures 2020 Cohort. Before Climate Cabinet Action she worked in the solar industry, and has a B.S. and M.S. in Atmosphere and Energy Engineering from Stanford University.

Read the Transcription

Please note, this transcription is automatically generated and may contain some spelling and contextual errors.

Sedale Turbovsky

All right, everybody. Welcome to understanding climate policy and funding. Super excited to have you all here while everyone trickles in. My name’s Sedale Turbovsky. I’m the CEO and co-founder here at OpenGrants. And if you are here for the understanding climate policy and funding webinar, then you were in the right spot.

And if you weren’t trying to sign up for this, but you’re here, you should hang out. It’s gonna be really awesome. We’re gonna dive into all of the exciting things that are happening with climate funding and how that’s related to the actual actions and actionable things that you can do as people who are trying to drive impact, make changes.

There’s some very real, both economic and impact related benefits to partnering and examining how these public private partnerships work and are put together. So super excited to have you all here. Just some housekeeping we are going to just for everyone’s privacy and protection. We do keep these fairly locked down.

However if you do have questions during the webinar, you can use the Q&A tool to submit those questions to myself and Caroline, and we will be addressing those towards the end of the session. So we’ll do more of a fireside chat and discussion for the first 30 to 40 minutes. And then we’ll have a open kind of Q&A period, but feel free to drop in your questions anytime.

Once again, my name is Sedale Turbovsky. I’m the CEO co-founder here at OpenGrants, super excited to have you’all out. Just to like give a little bit of background. What we try to do in these sessions is provide kind of deep dives and, and information about. Aspects of the grant funding and the public sector ecosystem to entrepreneurs and people trying to create impact and do really important work.

So really excited to be here. Super excited to have Caroline Spears with us. She is the executive director of Climate Cabinet. Thank you so much for being here. And if you want to go ahead and just introduce yourself real quick and tell us a little bit about what Climate Cabinet is.

Caroline Spears

Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. Thanks for being here. Y’all I know webinars are sometimes tough to get yourself to open up the link for so congrats on being here. My name’s Caroline Spears from Climate Cabinet what we do is we help local leaders run, win, and legislate on the climate crisis.

So we have built the largest database of climate candidates and climate policy opportunities in the country, 32 million vote records and 10,000 policy jurisdictions. What we do is what we, we find and support. Under the radar policy makers who have outsized climate impact. And so I’m super excited to be here because climate, what we track is politicians throughout the country and we track what they’re doing to actually pass climate policy and to create the clean energy economy that we’re all working towards.

And climate policy is such a massive driver of climate grant making and climate innovation. So I’m excited to be here and, and chat about.

Sedale Turbovsky

Thank you so much. Thanks for all the incredible we’re doing too super, super exciting stuff. As we dive in, I’m gonna go ahead and roll out and I already see there’s a question in the chat already.

So super excited, love that energy from y’all on the, on the webinar today. Please feel free to dump those questions in. We are looking forward to diving into them. I’m gonna go ahead and just want to take the temperature of the room real quick. How are y’all feeling today? Going, gonna go ahead and launch this poll, please feel free to respond and engage and excited to hear back from y’all.

You know, I think one of the most exciting things about this space Frequently. And in particular, when you think about things like climate and climate change, I think people do get a bit overwhelmed and they feel like there’s maybe not a lot they can do about it. And I think this is a really cool opportunity today to dive into like, Hey, there’s billions of dollars available now for climate related things.

And the government didn’t just like, come up with this by itself. Right. It didn’t just like this. Wasn’t like an idea that like all of these, like. You know, people in government just had there’s a, there’s a process for, for how this got here. And so we are definitely gonna kind of pick some of that apart and talk a little bit about how individuals can engage and, and get that get these kind of things moved forward.

So loving the energy from the room, lots of excited, energetic people ready to learn some cautiously optimistic folks, some people who are feeling the fall vibes, which is very nice. And people looking for some midweek inspiration. So love that. So we’re gonna go ahead and get into it. I think one of the things I wanted to start with Caroline, Caroline, is just getting your thoughts on the current opportunities.

Like, what are you, what are you most excited about in terms of what’s been accomplished? You know, the IRA bills, one that everyone’s talking about, but there’s some other cool stuff that maybe is flying under the radar news wise, but that is really compelling. So I’d love to get your thoughts just high level on.

What’s going on. Maybe the bullet points.

Caroline Spears

space. Yeah. Thanks Adal. And, and cuz our specialty really is looking at under the radar opportunities. That’s what we do. So we’ve heard about the IRA and the, I I’m sure we’ll talk about that, but I wanna talk some other things.

I think aren’t quite on folks’ radar at this point in time. I wanna talk about California, Washington, New York and New Jersey have passed really historic climate legislation. That’s actually creating a ton of grant opportunities for new climate innovation. It’s coming out of New York state. It’s coming out of New York city.

They have different programs. It’s coming out of nice Serta with different program. And there’s a lot when you go in whether you’re thinking about biochar CDR or whether you’re thinking about 24 7 electricity production, there are programs right now available for all of those pieces. And that’s really exciting to me as I look through that.

The other thing that’s really, I think, flying under the radar right now, everyone’s talking at the IRA. Y’all the IIJA, the act from last year, that is still getting spent. There is a big question mark, in, in how all of that grant money is going to get allocated. And right now we have states submitting electric vehicle plans from last year’s bill, not the thing that was just passed from last year’s bill.

And it’s gonna really spur a lot of state based investment in electrical vehicle infrastructure, electric vehicle charging. And it’s not in the states that you might think it’s in Arkansas, it’s in Texas, it’s in Oklahoma. States across the country are submitting plans to build out their electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

I think that’s really exciting as well. So there’s a lot of separate programs at the state at the county at the local level that I think are popping up all over the place right now. And it’s, it’s really exciting.

Sedale Turbovsky

Yeah, no, it is super exciting to see that kind of progress. And I love that you brought up, you know, definitely our, the big, like eye catching stuff is like the, you know, big federal you know, expended chairs and, and allocations of budget and such.

But there are, you know, very compelling programs at the local level and some of the grants, you know, one of the ones that I bring up all the time is a really cool and very underutilized program in California that allows you know, businesses to put in charging infrastructure in front of their, in front of their like if you have a brick and mortar business and like, this is like a no brainer, right?

You get like more foot traffic, you get, you know, provider really cool service and, and, you know, it helps with electrification and, and all those things. So there’s a lot of stuff that is happening certainly under the radar as well. Keeping track of that is something that we do here at OpenGrants, but it’s also, I think on us as And this I’m gonna just be hammering on this all, all this whole time.

It’s like it’s on us to engage and participate, you know, as, as as folks who are trying to build businesses, but also you know, create an impact to kind of be engaged and aware of some of that. And there’s a lot of different tools and, and processes that we can dive into the like, help streamline that, because I know, you know, if, if you’re like me, you, you know, your time is already booked and like programmed out and it’s hard to like find extra time to do more things.

So yeah one of the things that I wanted to touch on and definitely want. The the temperature of the room also is, you know, just the idea of engaging with, with government or a government entity or official. So I’d love to hear from everyone who’s on the webinar this morning and full disclosure.

I actually didn’t even think about this, but Caroline was like, we should ask this question and I think it’s a great one. So let us know, like, how often do you engage with government entities? Officials across the board, because this is something that I think is so key in going back to like, how does, how do these things come, come to pass?

Like what happened to create these charging programs? Like did, did Texas just like one day decide, oh, we, we need electric vehicles. Like, so as you think about how often you engage with these folks, love to hear. So please do respond to the poll. Because I think, you know for those of you who may not be as aware.

There are ways to, I think everyone’s aware that like this happens because of feedback and, and, and through a process. But I think one of the things that people don’t think about enough is like, how can I be part of that? And it is really empowering to start to become part of this process as one of the coolest things that I think I learned pretty early on in my career.

And I feel very fortunate to have had that exposure of like, Hey, you know, you could like show up at these meetings and like, based on the information you’re submitting, all of a sudden, you’ll see a grant that’s like, oh, this, that was for our stuff. Sweet. Like, let’s go apply. And, and and so I, I know I talk a lot about building relationships with government entities and getting involved on that level.

But I think, you know, the mechanics of it may be a bit opaque sometimes. And so really excited to have going here to talk a bit about that too. So looks like about 20% of you said all the time, you’re talking with government people all the time. 34% said never , which sounds about right. And there’s a few folks who are at like once a month and a couple times a year.

So really excited, excited to have y’all involved and kudos to those of you who are talking to the government all the time. And also my condolences, if you’re talking to government all the time, I know it can be a bit a bit of a slog, but yeah, let’s, let’s talk a little bit about this. Can you talk a bit, maybe Karen about maybe Climate Cabinets work and also how people can get involved.

And maybe if you’ve been involved in some of these some of these things that you’re tracking now, like, what was the, what did that look like in terms of a process of like, oh, we have this idea we’d like electric vehicles, or we’d like the planet to not burn, like let’s figure out, let’s figure out how to deal with that.

Caroline Spears

Yeah. So what we’re tracking is fundamentally Climate Cabinet looks at government’s ability to solve climate change as, as a huge scale opportunity. The scale opportunity comes through government involvement and the government’s involved in our energy systems and our electricity systems, because we cannot have failure rates for these things, either.

These are fundamental and, and that’s why they’re involved. And it makes sense that they are climate policy is it’s drives innovation and it drives acceleration. Those are, you can think of policy and, and government as an innovator and an accelerator on these things. And so we were like, you know I, I worked in the solar industry and I saw this first firsthand we were building solar project after solar project in Massachusetts, and we were building no solar projects in Arizona.

And if y’all have been to either of those states, you know, one thing pretty clearly, one of those states is a lot more sunny than the other one. And that’s really what, when I started thinking about the role of government and our ability to actually build the clean energy economy was when I realized that one of those states had a lot more solar jobs than the other, and it wasn’t the sunny one and that all comes down to state policy.

So that’s how I got into this. And, and we started by thinking through federalism in the us. We have the federal government gets all the attention and really important things happen that yeah, the inflation reduction act that was just passed the infrastructure investment in jobs act, which is the Ija that I mentioned earlier, those pasted last year, these are putting a lot of money into Some really exciting new and innovative climate opportunities across the country.

But the United States, doesn’t just elect 535 people in Congress. And, and one president, we elect 500,000 people to office every six years, literally half a million people. So we should talk about the federal government. We need to talk about all of our governors. We need to talk about our 7,383 state legislators who pass energy efficiency and language that enables companies like O power to even exist.

We can talk about city governments and county governments. There are about 2000 communities across America that control their own utility. Like you might be used to paying com or ConEd or, or PG E or SoCal gas, your electricity bill, but in 2000 communities across the us, the people determining your electricity bill and determining Energy efficiency programs determining whether they buy wind or solar or coal or gas, that’s the city council, that’s the mayor.

So we really do have this system where policymakers have an immense opportunity to create markets. And that’s not just at the federal level, that’s at every single level of government. And then addition to the elected officials that you have. We have these agencies, large agencies that are tasked the legislature, tasks them with achieving certain policy outcomes.

And in some states, those policy outcomes are drive innovation, certain sectors drive. We want you to drive innovation in carbon dioxide and removal. We want you to drive innovation in electric vehicles. And those agencies then become massive grant opportunities for folks who are creating innovative products, like so many people on this call.

So that’s what, we’re, what we’re tracking at Climate Cabinet is we track. 10,000 of those smaller policy jurisdictions, and we track what policies they’re putting out to, to see what to see where opportunities for climate policy engagement are. That’s why this year you know, we’re involved Arizona actually elects its electricity regulators, which is wild that we elect that crazy.

But we do we do in a bunch of states and it’s why we’re in, you know, we’re, we’re getting involved. And we’re making sure that the people who care about the clean energy future and care about spurring, that innovation are elected to the head of the Arizona corporation commission, so that maybe air can Arizona king make some progress on its solar jobs and actually create that economy for the folks in Arizona.

So. That’s what we’re involved in and that’s why we track 32 million vote records. It’s like every vote that thousands of politicians are taking on every piece of climate legislation. So we can really accurately analyze why bills are failing and why they’re succeeding. And how do we, how do we create pro climate majorities to put these bills over the line and actually spur so much innovation across the country.

Sedale Turbovsky

That’s very cool. That’s amazing. And I think, you know, kudos first and foremost for all the work that’s gone into doing that. Cause I know it’s no small feat. But I think one of the exciting things about this and, you know, going back to, you know, you have I never really appreciated like the power of city councils, for example, until until I really got into this space and, and did a more deeper dive on like what, what they’re up to and what they’re doing.

But I think it’s, you know, it is really exciting to have people with, you know, that much influence who are. You know, they’re there with you. Like these are your like peers in your community. It’s not like some far off bureaucrat on Capitol hill in Washington, DC, who is like making decisions about how your community’s gonna purchase power or what kind of incentives are gonna have, or if there’s gonna be solar projects, that kind of thing.

These are folks who these are people, you know, a lot of times and if you don’t know them, they’re people that you can, you know, that you can meet with a, a reasonable level of effort as opposed to, you know, needing to necessarily maybe fly to DC or something. So what kind of things have you seen AF be effective in making those changes in terms of, you know, Not only making the, the argument that like, not only is this a good thing for like the earth, but like, this is like the, these are the new trendy jobs that people should be having.

Like, there’s, there’s a lot of economic opportunity here. And you know, what, what kind of storytelling or, or what kind of tactics and things have you seen be effective for, you know, making these kinds of changes?

Caroline Spears

Yeah, I think when folks start thinking about getting involved in policy can be this really large thing.

And I just now I said there are 500,000 policy makers in the us, and that is a very big number. But my goal at Climate Cabinet is to make that easy. That’s what we do is we. Know, taking, taking action easy. And so a few of those things that really come through if you’re someone who’s like, I don’t really wanna, I like don’t have, maybe you’re a startup and you’re like, I can’t hire a lobbyist.

Like, oh, like, how am I gonna get involved? I’d say the first thing is join your local clean energy trade association. There are some that are more specific based on type there’s some more informal groups like women in, in renewable energy. There are some trade associations like North Carolina, solar energy association that are more specific to an innovation type.

There are storage trade associations, you name it there. Probably a trade association for you get involved and use that as the accelerant to not only what that’ll do is two things. It’s the accelerant to help you learn about how to engage more effectively, which is very specific questions and roadblocks that you’re running into.

The other thing is that by paying into that trade association, you’re helping create a policy environment that is welcoming to your to your business. So I’d say that’s, that would be a great first step. The next step Is, if you go after a few grant proposals, funding proposals do a power map of the elected officials or, and, and the, and folks in, in the regulatory environment that are in charge of saying yes to that grant proposal.

What you wanna do is apply for the grant proposals now, but you really wanna talk to folks early and relationship builds and get them excited about your idea. And like you said earlier, you know, sometimes all of a sudden, a year later a grant application will come out and you’re like, wow, that sounds exactly like what we’re, what we’re working towards.

And it’s about creating opportunity. I think I’ve seen this over and over and, and outcome policy doesn’t happen and a vacuum doesn’t happen because some economists sit somewhere and is like, this is how we should spend the investment reduction act. It happens because people lobby and they’re able to make their case effectively.

And so you’re as an entrepreneur creating especially in clean energy, when we don’t know how the entire clean energy economy is gonna shake out, your job is not just selling your product, it’s demand creation. I think VRVO energy that geothermal company has done a really incredible job of this geothermal was now you see some articles about geothermal.

It was kind of written off as this, oh, this cool technology, but it’s never scale. It will never scale. Thanks to a lot of great demand creation. Like that company has managed to expand it, it create its own market. Which I think is a really incredible example of that. And it’s, yeah, it’s through finding which grants you think are useful for.

Instead of just blindly applying, go meet with the grant officer, go find the state legislator who set up that grant proposal. How did that, how did that grant proposal even come to be who did the authorizing legislation last session and go chat with the state legislator and say, thanks so much. This is what I’m trying to do.

And the other thing is politicians all a good ribbon cutting, invite them to tour your, if you have this facility, invite them to tour your facility show that you’re creating local jobs, local jobs that pay well. And I think that can be really effective. So that’s, I just gave a full scope of things from maybe you don’t have the time, you don’t have someone who can do this full time, just join your local trade association and start getting up to speed.

I think that can be really effective all the way to power map, everyth, all the people that are in charge of, of making your grant proposal happen. Go meet with folks. And, and that’s a very intensive process. So there’s a lot of different places you can take along that scale.

Sedale Turbovsky

Yeah, no, and, and this is great.

I wanna, I just wanna punctuate this, you know and, and bring it to, and, and you did a great job of bringing this like very actionable things, but to give like a quick list here you know, the really effective way for you to find, or start to generate opportunities for your company to get grant funding for, you know, demonstration projects, research and development is to engage with folks.

And I, I think I say this a lot, like go connect with the people, building the grants, be part of that process. And here’s like, you know, Caroline and Climate Cabinet with some very like, you know, specific and like topical tactical approaches to that process. I think, you know, as you think about as you as entrepreneurs and builders and people trying to create impact in this space investors, as well as you think about the amount of capital that’s available from the government.

Just like realized that they are and have been historically an incredible partner for innovation in everything from cancer drugs to the internet to GPS technology, like basically like all of the big life changing innovations that have come to pass were, you know, came out of, you know, these public private partnerships.

So as entrepreneurs we know like, you know, it’s, you, you have limited amounts of time. You do have to figure out like how to most effectively spend your time. And so frequently it can be like, all right, maybe we’re gonna go do all of that power mapping and meet with those people and drive those requirements and eventually become grants that we apply for.

Maybe we hire our consultant to do that. Maybe we rely on a trade association, but whatever it. Definitely engage. Don’t I think if there’s a takeaway here, I just wanted to be clear that this is an incredible time to lean into the opportunity to partner with the government. And there’s a, a, just a an abundance of capital there that is looking to be spent.

And there’s people looking for opportunities, you know, one of our one of the. Firms that does grant writing on the up and grants platform. It secured like 18 million. Like it was like six different U S D a grants for one of their portfolio for one of the companies they work with. And that’s the kind of opportunity that’s out there.

Like if you’re looking to go demonstrate your technology at scale somewhere, you’re looking to put in a pilot project, that’s you know, infrastructure kind of scale or enterprise scale. It’s a lot of capital and the government has that money right now. And as Caroline mentioned earlier, it’s like, you know, this is the money.

This isn’t the IRA bill that’s being spent at this point. It’s still like the other stuff that’s happened. Like we haven’t even gotten to the IRA money and the, the agencies that we speak with on a, on a very regular basis, like daily and weekly, they’re at, you know, they’re actually out there like saying, Hey, we can’t spend our money fast enough.

We need more people to apply and engage in these programs. All of that to say that huge opportunities here. And I think from a tactical standpoint figuring out for yourselves, what is gonna make the most sense in terms of like, do we hire consultant? Do we do this on our own? But a great place to start is just go talk to like your local elected officials and say, Hey, this is what I wanna do.

And if it turns out that you live in a particularly dense area and they’re not as accessible sometimes that can be challenging. You may want a consultant, but you know, for a lot of folks who live in areas that maybe are a little less populated and you’re elected officials aren’t as crazy busy schedule wise, I.

We have, we have folks with our rep, we have meetings with our representatives. They just come by the coworking space. Like, you know, they’re not super busy, they have a lot going on, but it’s not like their calendar is hard to get on. So I just highly encourage you to do that. Take those first steps and figure out what’s gonna work for you to drive that demand because you know, if one thing you take away from this is like you as entrepreneurs and, and folks working in this area, you can drive that demand yourselves.

And when you start to like really get after it, it’s not only super empowering, but it’s also really great economically.

Caroline Spears

Yeah. I mean one experience that I just had is we were talking with a mayor who controls a, a, a utility it’s one of those city owned utilities. And they didn’t know that the inflation production act con had specific money just for city owned utilities.

They, so I, one of these things is you know, your average, local elected official doesn’t have a ton of staff. They don’t want people who are like, let’s analyze every single federal boil and, and understand how it applies to, to the there’s just not the capacity. So there’s an opportunity to be helpful and also say, yeah, and if the inflation reduction act money gets to the city government it, I know it’s targeted for energy efficiency, weatherization, and That’s that’s what my company does.

And so you can really, I mean, O power started on pilot projects, just like this that were started based on energy efficiency legislation passed by state legislatures and implemented by utilities in the like 2006, 2007 era. And like famously was one of the only successful VC investments from Cleantech 1.0, so, yeah.

Yeah. And like Tesla, the other one of, one of the other only successful investments from Cleantech one point, oh, I forget how many years y’all I’m sure y’all have folks listening have seen this number. There’s like five years in which their largest source of income is California. Low-carbon fuel standard credits.

It’s not for selling cars. It’s for selling government credits for clean vehicles. Like that’s the, their largest source of income for years was that, and that’s what helped them get off the ground. So I think there’s sometimes a tendency for. Folks to say, oh, you know, all these businesses exist that the government Elon famously likes to say that on Twitter.

But sometimes Elon can get a little divorced from reality. And this is one of those cases in which yeah, when it comes to energy, all of this is really relevant. Early DOE grants are the reason we have fracking. There’s just example after example of, of how some of this money has driven different types of innovation across the whole.

Sedale Turbovsky

Yeah, that’s a, a really great point is that, you know, you have so much opportunity, not only to like drive that demand, but also to be the one bringing the solution to, to folks. You know, it’s so funny, one of like OpenGrants at this point, a lot of OpenGrants, bigger customers are governments, which you would think it it’s just like something you, as you think about it critically like, oh, actually that makes sense.

But, you know, you’re just like, oh yeah, they must know like how to navigate and like get after all this money and things. And, and as it turns out, no, they’re like, they’re super busy and they don’t have people who can analyze all of the money that’s coming out and plug it into their projects as it makes sense.

So if you are, you know, looking to do something in particular, locally or city and even state government, You know, coming to them and saying, Hey, look, not only can we help you with your, you know, demand you know, demand response for energy or clean, you know, solar or whatever you, whatever you’re working on.

If you can come to them and say, Hey, we can help solve this problem. Oh, we also did like a little research. We went on OpenGrants. We did, we Googled, like we found the grant money to pay for this, and they’re gonna be so happy to see you because they wanna solve problems frequently. When you talk with government, it’s not, it’s less about like, oh, we don’t want to do this.

And it’s frequently about like, oh, we don’t have the budget to pay for it. Or we don’t exactly know how to pay for it. So if you come to them with the solution and the plan and the grant, like in hand, you’re just like, Hey, here’s the money? They’re more than happy to. And I, I think that is an important point to make too, is that you don’t have to.

The the prime applicant on this grant funding. Like you can just be a subcontractor and roll up to the city and collect your check, which is actually way nicer for you because you don’t have to do any administration work. You don’t have to manage the grant, you just get paid. So you could put projects in the ground, you can get your innovation funded and, you know, then you can just like, take those next steps and go off and do your thing.

You don’t have to worry about like the five years of, of retention on the grant, all that extra stuff. And the government you know, they’re very amenable to that because that’s, you know, that’s great for them as well. So you know, huge opportunities there to be be helpful. When you walk into these conversations and to get some, you know, real action taken.

Caroline Spears

Yeah. I mean, inflation re the IRA inflation reduction act has $3 billion for ports and improving port operations. Reducing air pollution and ports. If you. Any technology related to ports. I can almost guarantee you that most of the staff working at ports, they may know that there’s some money available.

They don’t know how it’s getting there, and if you can be at helpful in saying, okay, I already went. And I figured out generally how to do this. Let’s work on doing this together. I mean, there’s the port of Brownsville, there’s the port of Houston. There’s port of Tacoma. Like we, you know, there’s a ton of money available and some of these smaller areas all that money’s gonna get taken up by the larger ports, like the port of LA unless they, they apply for it.

And, and oftentimes sometimes these local jurisdictions just don’t have the capacity to even figure it out. So they’re like, forget it. I’m not even gonna apply, but you can be the, the game changer and their ability to actually attract that capital to their area. Which is exciting. But I mean, what we see a lot with, with these types of government, Grants that go, that are sub granted to local authorities is the local, the local jurisdictions that are already have a ton of people and have a ton of staff.

And their budgets are really large. They tend to just suck all of the money into their jurisdictions, cuz they ha literally have grant writers who can apply for it. And you can be a game changer for smaller jurisdiction that otherwise would’ve gotten shut out of, of federal relief federal dollars or state dollars like this.

California is a state. I, I think this has been a classic issue that they keep trying to fix, which is that the city of LA or the city of San Francisco has a few extra people on staff that can pull state dollars into their area. And so that’s a constant struggle for smaller jurisdictions who just don’t have the staff.

Sedale Turbovsky

Yes, we have. There’s a whole political movement born out of that, that problem. But. I do wanna like highlight that this is not only just. It’s a problem for the agencies. They don’t have the tools to like, do the outreach that they’d like to do. There’s also a, you know, a technical assistance barrier. This is a lot of, you know, frankly, that kind of core problem is a lot of the reason we built OpenGrants in the first place.

Because it just watched it happen in time and time again, where we’d be in meetings. In fact, in the agency would be like, well, no one else applied. So everyone else gets like an extra 50 grand or like, you know, they, you know, they, they need to move the money and no one else steps up to the plates. They give it to the people who are there, which makes sense.

And you can’t really fault ’em for that, but it is it’s a hard it’s a hard nut to crack. And I think a lot of where we’ve seen really compelling success stories is when like firms and groups and entrepreneurs show up with great ideas and, and move that forward. And so a lot of like our vision, like what I’d love to see in terms of successful impact of just some of these things that we’ve been doing.

And just the, the, I ethos of like some of my personal mission is. Like, Hey, let’s all figure out how to work with the government a bit better and, you know, give them some feedback, but also just show up with solutions like they have, they’re hungry for this. There’s a reason that all this money is available and they’re super interested in listening.

And while sometimes they may seem a little reluctant to move. It’s it’s, it’s, it’s less about you and more about just the bureaucracy and like the hoops they have to jump through. So just highly encourage you to do that. I’ve been looking at the questions coming in and some of them are rather complex and would love to, I think, take some time to just dive into those.

So I’m gonna go ahead and pop those up here and like this first one is pretty cool. So let’s we produce clean, renewable energy and save the ocean tech converts heat into electricity. We’re going for, for big nuclear plants. So like big infrastructure level kind of work does the new bill offer us help?

So yeah. Great question. All I can just say a little bit, which is to underline the things we just said, which is to say that there is a ton of money available for this kind of innovation now I would highly suggest that wherever, you know, you have an opportunity wherever like geographically there’s an opportunity for you to put your, like demonstration of your tech figure out whose jurisdiction that is and go have a discussion and start, start talking to them.

Start that conversation. The, the bill definitely helps you. But you do probably have to put in the well, no, you definitely will have to put in the legwork to get where you need to go. And that could be a consultant that could be you. But would love to hear your thoughts too. Caroline.

Caroline Spears

Yeah, I would look at the loan programs office at the DOE just got a ton of funding from the investment the inflation reduction act.

And exactly if you have some ideas of where you wanna cite it that’s a federal agency. So talking to the member of Congress who who represents that area, where you might wanna put a demonstration site talking to their staff that will definitely have some sway at the DOE that will be helpful.

There are folks who specialize in loan program, office grants, there are individual kind of contract lobbyists that will help you understand kind of that process really manually. And the other piece is there are a bunch of state innovation grants available. I know the California energy commission and there are ones from.

New York is spinning up a ton on this in the Northeast as well. So 24 7 dispatchable are like go to people’s ears. We’re starting to see a little bit of movement. Energy markets haven’t caught up to valuing the new future of energy, the way it should be. We’re still stuck in a very old way of valuing electricity energy and capacity and ancillary services.

And we’re starting to have to shift that up a little bit. I am seeing a little bit more movement towards people waiting to pay a premium for 20 24 7 energy. And especially with new technologies, I’m also seeing a little bit of change in governments willing to make advanced market commitments and say, we really would love to be buying carbon free cement in 10 years and what that, that bill got passed because carbon free cement companies, which lobbied to get that bill passed.

And what that does is then send the signal to that. Company’s investors to say, the government’s gonna be serious about this. If we can produce a product, even though they haven’t been able to produce their product at scale yet it’s still in, in the innovation phase. So those are two things that come to mind.

Sedale Turbovsky


Great. Great stuff. A quick one, can you please define, IIJA yeah, lots of acronyms were thrown around. Apologies for that. But if you wanna like, give a little bit of background too on that that be cool.

Caroline Spears

Yes. IIJA. Past last year we are in acronym soup. So every time I say IIJA I have to look it up to remember exactly what it meant in the first place, the infrastructure, investment, and jobs act, the big climate provisions out of it.

There weren’t a ton, but there was electric vehicle plant provisions and school bus provisions, and a lot of money towards, towards schools which could be building electrification opportunities, that school bus opportunities, opportunities that help schools have healthy air for kids and have clean transportation for kids abound in, in that, in that bill.

So that’s really exciting. The big thing about IIJA is that all of the money is getting sent to state governments and state governments are gonna figure it out largely that’s what’s happening. So if you wanna know how IIJA money is getting spent, that is in state budgets and it is in local budgets at this point, and then it’ll get re granted out.

It’s a big state local play.

Sedale Turbovsky

Awesome. Thank you so much. All right. How global is this funding initiative, at least as far as enabling big initiatives with climate impact go globally. Yeah. I mean, I, I know that generally speaking federal money goes to the us. However, there are a variety of initiatives in terms of like sister agencies and partner agencies across the world that collaborate with, you know, federal and, and state agencies on, on different initiatives.

I think I think it’s fairly limited in terms of like, oh, if we’re gonna do a project in Brazil, we could get funding from the IRA. But certainly very, very interesting and compelling in terms of, Hey, the United States is a big market. We contribute a lot to climate change as producers of you know, climate causing emissions.

And so, you know, I think that’s pretty pretty compelling in terms of like addressing how we impact the world with our emissions. And Caroline, I don’t know if you have other thoughts

Caroline Spears

I think that’s fair, just like the us is federal government where, but we also have state and local governments that requires kind of a different level of expertise at different levels.

The same things ex exist on the international stage and we hang out in us policy land. So the same buckets exist in other countries. And I don’t have insight into them because we do stay local in the United States.

Sedale Turbovsky

Perfect. I think this is an interesting question just from so the question is, what role do we play yourself and myself?

And do we evaluate new energy projects? So I’ll just go first, real quick, which is say that I am CEO and co-founder of OpenGrants. We develop software to help people track grant funding and love to just, you know, also educate people about the opportunity here, so that that’s my. I don’t do any kind of evaluation of energy projects from from that standpoint.

But certainly love this space, very passionate about it. And I did, at one point did work in this space, so used to evaluate energy projects.

Caroline Spears

yeah. And I’m the executive director of Climate Cabinet. We’ll reevaluate politicians on how they do on climate. So that’s why we track all of this policy.

And that’s why we track politicians, as we’re saying, which politicians are actually moving the ball forward on climate and which politicians are actively taking us backwards in time. And that’s, that’s what we evaluate. So not evaluating energy projects specifically. We focus on our policy makers and what levers of policy do we need to shift in order to accelerate the clean energy transition.

Sedale Turbovsky

Awesome. Great question here for you. What. Advice you have for people in states like Florida, that aren’t really progressive when it comes to climate action financing and support and a little context. This individual works for a nonprofit that helps for profit businesses align their goals with impact.

Caroline Spears

Yes. Any state you’re in literally doesn’t matter, the state, you will be able to find and it’s gonna be smaller, but a climate governing areas that can still move the ball forward on climate in Florida. One of the things that I’m focusing on a lot right now are municipal utilities in Florida.

I can drop a link. We do fundraising for political candidates. That’s one of the things that we do, and we’re supporting some folks running for office in cities, in Florida. We like cities that own their own utility because they actually have a lot of power in terms of they can create energy efficiency requirements that create thousands of, of HVAC jobs, HVAC technician, jobs they can promote building electrification that creates jobs in heat pumps.

There’s so much that they can do. And so if the state government has got you down, start looking what the cities are doing and there’s, there’s some really innovative things happening across the country. No matter what no matter where you’re, where you’re calling in from.

Sedale Turbovsky

Another great question. I’m a co-founder of a climate focus collective that is members in several countries heard that federal grants aren’t available to such a mix of citizens. It’s not technically true. There’s, there’s a lot of different ways to go about this. One of the big ones that I mentioned earlier is really just, you know for funding, for a variety of these projects, you’re gonna be partnering with governments anyways.

So you might look at like a government partner in the United States as the, in the actual applicant for that grant, and then they could subcontract work and opportunities to you. Once again, you show up with the, with the money and, and the, like the solution in place. They’re very excited about that because now, now they don’t have to, like now they get to do something good.

They don’t have to pay for it. and you’ve just, you’ve solved most of their problems. So that’s just encourage you to look at it potentially that way. Let’s see Caroline, I don’t know if you have some focus on this since you are on more of state and local, but do you have any thoughts you’d like to share on the impact of California, of, of CIL 9 0 5?

Caroline Spears

Yeah, I think California is making a lot of the new carbon. That’s the carbon dioxide. I think that’s the CDR bill. Exactly. Yep.

Sedale Turbovsky

Okay. Yep. And, and generally, maybe if you could also like relate it to how you think it might impact, you know, CDR startups in California.

Caroline Spears

Yeah. I think from this is a talk to your lawyer comment, talk to someone who’s more in depth on this specific bill before you take this as gospel, but from what I I’ve read about the bill I’m very I think California is.

Moving the ball forward on evaluating CDR and C CS holistically and with an eye towards like high quality solutions. And that’s what I view this bill as is kind of setting standards and ensuring that that CDR solutions are high quality and not creating intended impact unintended impacts and kind of pollution hotspots in this state.

We’ve seen some EOR pipelines bust creating some, some big environmental hazards throughout the country already. Out of the 45, the federal 45 Q program, which is a tax incentive program that does carbonide removal to produce more oil. It’s been an initial application, so I’m excited for More, I think what we’ve seen in the carbon offset space is a lack of transparency and standards.

That’s let folks kind of take advantage of the system and I’m very excited for California. What, what I see this bill as is moving California in the direction where it’s creating a lot of transparency into CDR and making sure that any carbon taken outta the atmosphere is accounted for and is high quality and not letting that fall into the same mess that carbon offsets have found themselves in a few times.

Sedale Turbovsky

Great response. Another really great one for you. Do you have an example of a power map and what you would include when building one, if you’re doing that kinda analysis.

Caroline Spears

Yeah. And I will say still, you started sending a little bit like theater. I don’t know what’s going on with the yeah. So by power mapping what I would do.

is, and you can go at it through both ways. Take some dedicated time. I literally do this with a giant sheet on my wall. and just start reading. Okay. So let’s take let’s take, I, I J as an example, the, the federal bill that was, was passed last year, it gives a lot of money to state governments. It does EVs and school buses and, and, and school district funding.

So what I would do is start with that. And where’s the money gonna end up at? Like, where’s right before the money goes to maybe a, a school bus, a bus manufacturer, or a charging station or, or a charging station company. What is that? How is that getting there? And then who’s in charge of that grant process, who do they report to like.

Still said how if you’re gonna do a demonstration project, where are you putting the demonstration project? Who are all the city council members there? Who’s the mayor read into the mayor? Did they win their last election by a lot? How’s the, whether the latest, hot button issues in the town are people really discussing issues like, wow, we have a lot of new jobs in, but it seems like people from the local community aren’t getting hired into those new jobs.

What are the concerns that are, that are most directly related to the people who are gonna say yes or no to your project and do research the other and like write those out, develop a theory of what’s happening and then go talk to them get on my calendar. And, and the other piece of power mapping that I find really helpful is at the beginning when you’re like, wow, the universe is infinite.

I could talk to a thousand people, never get, you know, you’re gonna talk to person after person, and you’re gonna hit a point at which people keep referring you back to the same person over and over again. And that’s when you know, you’ve power mapped. You’re like, all right, I know everyone now. And the, in the world that ends up getting a lot smaller.

So figuring that out. And then once you go talk to folks having done that initial research is always incredibly helpful for us because it shows that we come to the conversation meeting folks 50 50, we don’t show up to the conversation, tell me everything. I didn’t do any research. Like what do you know from the conversation?

I hear that your homelessness is a really big issue that you’re really trying to solve. I hear that local employment is a really big issue that you’re trying to solve. Here’s what I’m trying to do. And I’d love to try to work on these other issues with you in these other ways. So that’s what I mean by power mapping.

It’s a combination of extensive individual research into who holds power. Who’s gonna say yes or no on your project, and then also interpersonal conversations to make sure that all of that initial research you’ve done actually bears fruit in the field.

Sedale Turbovsky

Awesome. Thank you so much. Do I still sound like Darth Vader?

Caroline Spears

No. Okay. Yeah. Good.

Sedale Turbovsky

That’s a positive. Yeah. Awesome. Love this one. Would love to hear your thoughts on it. If you were a mayor or city manager, what projects or federal funding and incentives would you prioritize for your city ops?

Caroline Spears

Hey, Stu. hope you’re doing well. Okay. What I would actually do is the, the federal government is gonna hire a bunch of people who were like case managers for go meet the case managers.

It’s their job to help you advocate. And again, gonna have to meet folks halfway, but that’s where I would start go meet the person who’s in charge of state and local implementation, or is in charge of implementation of the DOE for the elector school bus fund. And that’s, that’s where I would start with, yeah, that’s where I would start with this.

There have been some center for American progress posted. I thought a very detailed overview on like what the buckets money are for. It’s not gonna tell you who to talk to, but at least it gives you a great lay of the land. I can drop it in the chat of, of where this money is going. And anything that’s available to cities is available to your city.

If they can get the capacity, they need to actually go apply for it. Which is a big if for many cities that are like focused on streets and potholes as they should be. But sometimes they don’t have the capacity to like go apply for this other stuff and that’s something you can be really helpful with.

Sedale Turbovsky

Love it. Great question here. Can you suggest how one could start a career in this space in terms of climate change? What would you say? I was gonna say climate draft. I think you can, I think they’re, they just opened up their community. In fact it’s a great opportunity to like dive in and find jobs.

Conversely though. So climate draft’s definitely gotten focused on tech. I would say that once again, you, you be well served to just go chat with maybe your, your folks elected officials in your, in your area and say, Hey, what are you, what are you doing on climate? You know, there any things that you’re looking to solve, like how can we be helpful?

I always encourage people to just ask, like, instead of trying to like go out and forge a path, sometimes it’s helpful to just go ask and say, Hey, what, what are you, what are you trying to change? Like what can we do to be helpful? So those are a couple of my thoughts on that front. There’s also just a, a variety, a good not a variety, a plethora of companies that are hiring folks who have an interest in kind of applying their skills to climate change.

So no matter where you are in terms of what you do professionally there’s chances are, there’s a good opportunity to transition and work on climate.

Caroline Spears

Yeah. If you have any local like clean energy or even just generally energy networking groups, that can be a really great place to learn and get started.

Especially if you’re coming from a non climate field, endo climate fields. What I’ve talked to folks is a common issue that I’ve heard is it’s chicken or the egg. If you have an climate it’s hard to get in the climate. You know, it’s a classic resume problem where everyone’s like, well, you haven’t done this before.

And you’re like, well, yeah, if you don’t give me a chance, I won’t ever do this before. So what’s, you know and the, the professional networking groups and then even volunteering locally for a, a climate organized citizens group can be a great way to like really get in the weed of a policy. And then that can be a, a resume help for saying, I actually know how utility regulation works because I’ve been volunteering with a rate payer advocate group that’s advocating for more clean energy and cheaper rates.

And sometimes a volunteer opportunity can help you get that.

Sedale Turbovsky

Love it. That’s awesome. I don’t have a good answer for this one. and maybe you do, and maybe you don’t, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. It’s a great question. As an emerging climate change enthusiast, I think in a ref in a refugee setting, what advice would you suggest for effective engagement with policy makers given they’re so distant from the communities and how best can one drive a climate change message to communities?

Caroline Spears

I you know, I don’t know. I’m just like, that’s a sounds like a very

Just very challenging and especially it’s just a level of, you know, we’ve been talking a lot about like, I, I speak from a us based context. I’m like call your city county official. There is. Yeah. That’s I have, no, I, I, I have no idea and I wish you the best with that. Cause that sounds very challenging and it sounds like also like something worth doing.

Right. So, thanks for doing that. Yeah. And I appreciate it.

Sedale Turbovsky

Yeah. I think you know feel free to reach out through our email up at the end and some contact info. But yeah, I think that that’s a very that’s a very unique situation and also something, unfortunately it’s not as unique as, as you know, it should be, but it is certainly unique to me.

I, so yeah, would love to try to connect you some resources, but don’t have a good response at the moment for that. There are a a variety of. Just like a lot of good grant questions that I am happy to kind of dive into a bit and also would love to get your inputs on. So one here about, I think this one is really great.

This might be showing my lack of experience, but taking your example of solving the problem and showing them funding resources, how do we find or understand what funding resources exist? You know, a couple of great things that have already been mentioned talking to your elected officials, you know, sometimes the people who are in your community will have served on.

The the, the, you know, the committees and the appropriation committees that have like allocated funding for these projects tools like OpenGrants, of course are super helpful in figuring out what kind of funding is available. Google also sometimes useful. It’s a little more open ended.

So a purpose built like grant aggregator is great grants.gov, sba.gov or not SBA, but beta sam.gov also has a lot of information on on those kinds of resources. So that’s awesome. But yeah, you want to, you know, you want to create your, your project, understand like what kind of funding can be used, cuz it can be multifaceted and then connect with folks.

And I think you know, talking honestly having that discussion with people who are in the know really effective and. Any, any other thoughts? I know we’re kind of close on time here. But I do wanna say there’s some other great questions that I put out there that were, you know, specifically around , we’re specifically around grant funding.

We will do our, our best to follow up with all of those. Really appreciate all of you who attended today. And I do wanna turn over to Caroline at, at the end here and just see, you know, any, any kind of like final calls to action or additional thoughts you wanna share with the, with the audience before we, before we wrap up here.

Caroline Spears

Yeah. You know I think energy industry folks trying to create a market and new energy industries, existing energy and, and, and industries. Are heavily involved in every layer of us government. When I look through candidate contribution and filings the local utility is donating to every county commission race.

The American gas association is donating to every random policymaker you have never heard of. They’re getting a check in the mail from the American gas association, and it’s more than a check in the mail. It’s the beginning of a relationship. And, and that isn’t done because the American gas association loves politics it’s done because they see a huge benefit to their bottom line from getting involved in policy.

And you know, obviously you have to right size that for a smaller organization. That’s not, you know the nation’s largest gas lobbying group, but this is already a space where a lot of folks are involved, but a lot of those folks are are, you know, really reduce releasing a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Let me put it that way. They are they’re extractive industries that are not solving climate change. And so this is a big opportunity, but it’s also a big risk. The climate community has to get involved in this space. They have to get involved in state and local policy making. The future of, of so many new climate started.

Some I’m really excited about are at stake. Their market share is at stake and it also is an incredible opportunity and I’m really excited to have chatted with y’all about that today. I think it’s really, it’s exciting and worried a really interesting time in history on, on the climate front.

Sedale Turbovsky

I love it.

Awesome. Well I’m excited. I hope that y’all come away from this feeling empowered and excited to get involved and engaged. We will be putting the recording of this out on on our YouTube channel. We’ll also send out an email with follow up and contact information and other relevant info.

So don’t despair feel free, check out open. Those links are also in the chat, but we’ll send follow ups and, and information out to everyone. Thank you all for joining us. This was, this was super fun. Thank you. In particular, Caroline for your time and expertise and energy and all the awesome work you’re doing and we will, we’ll be in touch.

So everyone enjoy your day.

Caroline Spears

Appreciate, thanks so much. Nice to meet you. Have a good one and reach out if you want to.