M.I.T. has long been a champion of clean-energy startups, launching such companies as battery maker A123 Systems. For three years, the school has offered a course on clean-energy ventures, in which students build companies and compete for funding. Next May, the Sloan School of Management will introduce a week-long version of the class for business executives.
Bill Aulet, acting managing director of M.I.T.'s Entrepreneurship Center, says launching a clean-energy company is a more complex endeavor than, say, starting a software company.
"Because energy requires a very capital-intensive infrastructure and an exquisitely complicated supply chain, you need to work with large companies and you need to work with the government," he says.
Aulet considers Recovery Act funding great for entrepreneurs, but "what you need for energy to be successful is a consistent long-term policy," he says. "You need more than three-year stimulus packages that lead to who knows what? You need to have long-term visions."
And that's where the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act may come in, though naysayers worry that the Senate is rushing the legislation without thoroughly studying its potential effects.
"This bill necessarily will raise the price of gasoline, electricity, food and just about everything else," says Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma who's the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He has called global warming a "hoax."
"We need a comprehensive economic analysis to understand the bill's impacts," he said during Tuesday's hearing. "But we don't have it."
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