“The dog finally caught the car” is how Dan Reicher, Google.org’s director of climate and energy initiatives put it today — with the dog being clean energy advocates, and the car being government funding for renewables. Now, according to Reicher, who spoke on a Ceres conference panel today about innovative business models, the money has to move so fast it can’t possibly be spent with total transparency (an issue dear to Google (s GOOG)) or wisdom.
“We’ve been asking for this for 30 years, getting a billion here, a billion there [for clean energy],” said Reicher, who served in the Clinton administration Energy Department and helped develop portions of the stimulus legislation as a member of President Barack Obama’s transition team. “Now we have $80 billion.” Anyone in the audience at Ceres, he said, “could write the New York Times or Washington Post story a year from now about how we didn’t spend the money well.”
Reicher thinks the stimulus funds will be most effective if there’s more transparency and a greater effort to get the word out about how to apply. Evidently he’s unimpressed with Recovery.gov, the Obama administration’s attempt to provide easy access to information about applying for stimulus funds and how they’re being spent. The Google.org approach? Cast a wide net for pitches. Over a year ago, when Google.org was just getting started doling out its own pile of clean energy cash, Reicher told a group of entrepreneurs and investors to “send us your business plans.” Have you sent yours to the feds?