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Let's Schmooze Scott Sklar, Sunny Side Up

Fortnightly Magazine - April 15 1998

Stella returns with an unclothed doll. Her father shows off his greenhouse, his solar-powered weather station and the back of his house (em a curved wall of glass on one floor.

5:45 P.M. Sklar drives back into the city for a National Association of State Energy Officials cocktail party at the Red Sage restaurant. He thinks it's at 6, but will soon learn it's at 7:30. A fouled schedule? An effort to get out from under the microscope?

It doesn't matter, tomorrow's Tuesday. The mission, the effort, the campaign, the sunshine of his life, begins anew.

The ticket he gets parking in a bus zone on F Street near the restaurant won't matter.

Nothing does.

Still city-bound, Sklar is asked: Does he ever get discouraged? Meeting with DOE, he half-jokingly suggested he may not see a million solar roofs built in his lifetime.

"I get sometimes, well sometimes things seem a little too complicated," he says. "You know it's like¼" He laughs. He supplicates the darkening heavens with a hand. "If we wait around for every piece to fall together in this society we would (em where would we be as a country?

"Part of it is (em what America's known for is that risk (em entrepreneurism.

"Sometimes the people, not so much in the government, but in my allied industries, go up there and talk about free enterprise and America taking the risk and when you look in their eyes and go, 'Take a risk,' they go, 'Whoa, can't do that 'til you prove it.'"

He says all this as he drives downtown over the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, pink dusk painting the city. Up ahead: the Lincoln Memorial, back lit. The Washington monument, also lit, standing even taller. The moon is almost full.

"Everything we have in our society was unproven at some point until somebody takes a risk," Sklar says.

"In fact, some things were laughed out of town."

The van heads into the city, into tomorrow (em another breakfast, another cocktail party (em past the fir tree on the Ellipse that, at Christmas, was lit by solar power.

Joseph F. Schuler Jr. is senior associate editor at Public Utilities Fortnightly.

Sklar revisits his largest personal political black eye, in the mid-1980s¼ The Reagan administration was not pro-solar, and saw it as technology supported by Jimmy Carter and Jerry Brown. More than 150 businesses failed and 10,000 people were out of work.


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