This month’s column is indeed bittersweet, as we need to bid farewell to outgoing WADE Chairman Richard Brent, who has overseen a rapid and dramatic overhaul of WADE during his term in office. Richard has been instrumental in expanding the WADE brand around the globe and raising the profile of decentralized energy within major energy policy organizations – and he has the frequent-flier miles and worn passport to prove it! Richard’s boundless energy and enthusiasm is, remarkably, a renewable resource, as his batteries are always fully charged. To spend time with him in his K Street office in Washington, DC is to experience a cross between mission control and the United Nations, as Richard all the while works his magic on the myriad actors and issues that find their way to his door, inbox, or phone.

While Richard will remain on the WADE board of directors, we thank him for his remarkable contributions. The good news is that we get to welcome in as WADE Chairman Christoph Vitzthum, a rising star within Wärtsilä who heads up its global power plants organization. Both of these gentlemen follow the example set by former WADE Chairman Tom Casten, perhaps the greatest entrepreneur in the industry, who was inducted into the WADE Hall of Fame a little over a year ago at the WADE Annual Meeting in Prague. Having worked with trade associations for a number of years, I can say that all of these men represent the best in association leadership and set the bar high for all who follow.

This change in leadership occurred during the WADE Annual Meeting in New Orleans that also featured a presentation by former CIA director James Woolsey who, with incredible eloquence, wove together the concepts of energy security, energy policy and climate change and the role that clean energy must play in our energy future. And, while the Board was busy in New Orleans, the WADE staff selflessly sacrificed New Orleans for the tropical paradise of Bali, where they were on the frontlines of the climate debate, advocating decentralized energy as a solution that can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and delivered power costs – a message that is finally starting to get through. Bali produced a valuable road map that will showcase the advantages of decentralized energy technologies (see also Jeff Bell’s article from Bali on page 29).

With US elections scheduled for 2008, the odds favour a US government in 2009 that will make climate change a top priority. But, while a road map is useful, what we really need is a clean energy WADE bus to actually move us in the right direction. The ongoing climate debate will pose continuing challenges for Christoph, in his new position as WADE Chairman, but will also create new opportunities for him, the business executive, and the other members of WADE who stand ready to provide the solutions signposted at the Bali conference. Please offer your support and take a seat on the WADE bus.

David Sweet
Director of WADE and Consulting Editor of COSPP
dsweet@localpower.org