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Let's Schmooze Scott Sklar, Sunny Side Up

Fortnightly Magazine - April 15 1998

patrons could use their credit cards to pay. How administrators could pick up meter data by satellite at the day's end.

He yells: "A legal one! Yes!" It's a parking spot, complete with a pole and the empty hull of a District meter.

2:40 P.M. Sklar bursts in, 10 minutes late, on a meeting with Dan Reicher, the DOE's assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy; David Nemtzow of the Alliance to Save Energy; Mike Totten of the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology, and four other industry officials. The meeting's agenda includes the best way to educate the public on efficient and renewable energy. A wedge of sunlight splits the meeting room table.

Reicher quickly notes that the meeting is off the record.

3:21 P.M. The meeting adjourns. "We've got to get together and schmooze," Sklar tells one participant.

The lobbyist heads to his next meeting across the hall, after some mini-schmoozing with DOE staffers. Like most of the rooms along the wide corridors of this federal building, this one's very utilitarian. A thumping sound like a heartbeat that probably is a HVAC system gone bad can be heard beyond one wall.

The senior DOE official in this meeting asks not to be named. Also present: Jane M. Weissman, Vicki Mastaitis, Jack F. Werner Jr. (em all of IREC (em and David J. Warner, an IREC member and National Renewable Energy Laboratory official.

3:29 P.M. Sklar launches into his appeal to the senior DOE man almost immediately on the Million Solar Roofs program, in an easy-going banter. The DOE official is as easy-going.

But it's clear from the start of the meeting that the DOE will provide little to no financial support on the program.

"There are miscues going on," Sklar says. "You're feeling picked on." He explains that his staff is trying to build solidarity around the administration and the DOE on the roof program. That they want the 500,000 early pledges of roofs turned into reality.

The official says the industry is grousing that the DOE must solve the funding and lending dilemma. "I say industry must."

Sklar counters that Fannie Mae, the government lending agency, has done "bupkus" for the industry.

The official gives Sklar a challenge: He needs four or five substantive proposals from industry so that should DOE intercede with Fannie Mae, SEIA would at least have deals to bring to the table. He mentions a meeting with one of Sklar's members (the one Sklar chewed out earlier in the day). He says he sees the alignment with a private lender as a plus.

Sklar: "It would be wonderful to see GMAC and Fannie Mae work on a program. I would grow hair again."

"We have to get the utilities," the DOE official says.

"If we've got Fannie Mae and GMAC, that covers the capital cost. All we have to do is promote it¼ The problem with the utilities industry right now is they're in the middle of restructuring so they don't want to get too far out." Sklar says as many as 60