Lobbying the Cleantech Way

If your cleantech company relies on green policies and is even remotely well-funded, chances are there’s a cleantech lobbyist on your payroll. Case in point: biofuel startup Virent Energy Systems, which as Forbes notes in a company profile has been regularly visiting the Hill to generally influence policy and specifically to qualify for biofuel tax credits.

Apparently Virent’s biofuel is unique enough to be excluded from the current, clearly defined categories, so the company doesn’t qualify for related tax credits. But Virent’s CEO Eric Apfelbach tells Forbes that his meetings with members of congressional agriculture and energy committees, NGOs and trade groups are beginning to pay off. In fact Virent has spent so much time in Washington the company’s marketing director, Mary Blanchard, is registered as a lobbyist.

With so many cleantech companies relying on subsidies and endangered tax credits these days, Virent may be onto something. After all, not all startups can have a John Doerr on the team. But it helps that Virent has raised at least $40 million from Stark Investments and Cargill Ventures, and plans to raise even more in an IPO in a few years time. Visits to the Hill add up.


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