Calling Iowa's young leaders on clean energy

Midwest Energy News, a non-profit news website supported by non-profits focused on energy policy, is launching an award to recognize “emerging leaders throughout the region and their work to accelerate America’s transition to a clean energy economy.” The site will accept nominations for the “40 Under 40” designation here “until either 250 nominations are received or 10:00 p.m. CT on Monday, August 10.” Eligible candidates include “midwest-based leaders and innovators from all sectors -industry, government, regulatory, business, academic, and advocacy.”

I learned about the 40 Under 40 competition from State Representative Chuck Isenhart, who will serve on the selection advisory committee for Midwest Energy News. Isenhart is the ranking Democrat on the Iowa House Environmental Protection Committee and has been a strong voice in the Iowa legislature on a range of environmental issues.

Through volunteering for various non-profits, I have become acquainted with several Iowans who deserve serious consideration for the new award, and I plan to encourage their colleagues to nominate them. The candidate who immediately came to my mind, though, is someone I’ve never met. Paritosh Kasotia is the founder and CEO of Unfolding Energy, a non-profit “founded on a premise that clean energy choices can safeguard the climate as well as create economic growth.” She is best known as the highly capable former leader of the Iowa Energy Office; I enclose below more background on that part of her career. Late last year, leaders of the Iowa Economic Development Authority fired Kasotia for reasons never explained to anyone’s satisfaction. Some suspected the dismissal was related to a $1 million solar power grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, which Kasotia helped land but Iowa eventually relinquished after Branstad administration officials “amended an original proposal and insisted the grant not be used to evaluate solar energy policies – a change that utility lobbyists sought,” Ryan Foley reported for the Associated Press last July.

Background on Paritosh Kasotia, from the Unfolding Energy website:

Paritosh Kasotia spent the last five years working at the Iowa Energy Office where she undertook a number of clean energy programs. Of these, she spent the last three years playing a lead role in managing all the undertakings of the Energy Office. She successfully managed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Programs (ARRA) and the Iowa Power Fund Program, in addition to other federal and state energy programs.

As the Energy Lead at the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Paritosh worked relentlessly to promote energy efficiency at the municipality and institutional level.  She formed successful partnerships with various organizations, most notably the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) which drove demand for energy efficiency at municipality level, and the Iowa Energy Center on the Iowa Public Buildings Benchmarking Program. She also partnered with the Iowa Area Development Group (IADG) to establish a low-interest rate loan program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, a program highly successful in providing low-cost financing for solar PV projects.

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