Meet Jay Faison, The Conservative Who Wants to Change His Party on Climate and Energy

JUL 27 2015 BY MARK HOVIS 65

Meet Jay Faison, a North Carolina Republican and successful businessman, who just ponied up $175 million dollars in an effort to focus attention on clean energy, and in particular, aiding members of his party in understanding environmental impacts and opportunities ahead.  Faison contributed $165 million to endow a foundation,, focusing on clean energy and climate preservation, while contributing another $10 million dedicated to a 501c4 organization designed to support campaigns and engage in lobbying efforts, aimed at challenging the political landscape.

From ClearPath Website

From ClearPath Website

We encourage our readers to spend some time on the ClearPath website . Focused as we are on all things with a plug, we were immediately impressed with ClearPath’s dedication to Electric Vehicles. With over twenty plug ins to choose from today, it is increasingly difficult for those new to the technology to choose which technology is right for them. ClearPath has created an interactive calculator that allows users to enter their price range and typical mileage in order to evaluate regular fuel, diesel, hybrid, and electric vehicles and how the various technologies compare to each other.

community solar

Community Solar

ClearPath is also extremely dedicated to the “Next Big Thing”, Community Solar. The provided link will take you through ClearPath’s explanation of how community solar works. Although only 22% of US homes are at present capable of adding meaningful solar energy resources, we are now truly standing on the brink of rewriting this math and no other single event will have a greater impact on the choice of zero emission energy for EVs. Here is an excerpt from ClearPath.

Power not panels. That’s what’s so exciting about community solar. Many people want to save with solar power, but most don’t have the right roof for the panels, like the 100 million Americans who rent.9

The solution is to still offer those families solar, but keep their panels on nearby land. As the price of a panel continues to drop, this is a business model that is poised to takeoff. In the process, it will open up the power of solar to millions of Americans.

Solar energy is on the rise as one of the favored method for generating clean energy. However, a large number of people have been unable to join the revolution for a number of reasons. Some homes are not oriented properly or are blocked from adequate sunlight, some roofs are too old or of the wrong material, some HOAs prohibit solar installation, some rent, or live in an apartment with no access to a roof or land.

A pathway through these obstacles is being provided by community solar, sometimes referred to as “solar gardens.” With community solar, the purchase or lease of a group of panels does not actually power an individual home; the energy collected is instead feed into the grid to offset members’ usage. In this scenario, it is not necessary to own an expansive tract of land close one’s own home. The community solar farm, which may cover many acres and contain thousands of panels, may be placed miles away from a participant’s physical home on any location determined optimal with regard to economics of property and efficiency of energy collection.

Forward-thinking state governments can pass legislation to kick-start the growth of community solar. Some already have; 22 states now have community solar projects.

22 states currently committed to community solar

22 states currently committed to community solar

The Undeniable Market 

EVs currently make up less than one percent of the U.S. market, and some claim it to always be a niche sector. Likewise, it may be an equally small percent of conservatives that not only embrace climate change, but make it their number one issue, even morally. Here is such a man that not only believes it is the number one issue, but also believes it can be solved through the combined efforts of business leaders and innovators.

The job opportunities are undeniable. The business opportunities, as it applies to solar, EVs, and energy storage, are staggering. Solar, ever so slightly, has arrived first and is very close to parity in many regions. Solar jobs already outnumber coal 2-to-1 and are also responsible for 1.3% of all new jobs created, and as an industry, is on the rise.

While some analysts focus on flat U.S. EV sales this summer, others are looking forward to 2017 – 2020 where the market shows immense growth potential   Currently we have over twenty plug in models to choose from, and eight more on the way by the close of 2015. There could be as many as fifty EV models by the close of this decade.

Tesla Energy, with the introduction of their Powerwall product, has sent industries scrambling to be ready for the the boom in energy storage.

There are always entrepreneurs and business leaders looking for new and profitable business ideas, markets, and strategies. The undeniable market of renewable energy, EVs, and energy storage, may just be the common ground that launches solutions forward making it a win for business and our planet. It is refreshing to see a conservative that is not afraid to express his conviction to both while articulating paths of execution.

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65 Comments on "Meet Jay Faison, The Conservative Who Wants to Change His Party on Climate and Energy"

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Taking a look at the website, it appears to lean heavily on scientific analysis of climate change, as if scientists should be trusted… in other words, like any other “liberal” website. So I’m not sure how this website can break through the conservative echo chamber.

I applaud the effort, but when conservative media and politicians have successfully discredited scientists in the eyes of their audience/constituents, appeals to science aren’t going to have an impact.

No one has successfully “Discredited Scientists” in regards to the issue of supporting the data regarding Climate Change. This has never actually happened.

But what conservatives have actually done, is reduce the concept of Science itself– and deemed it nothing more than just “an opinion”.

That’s the true destructive power of a heavily funded conservative media with an anti-educated (i.e., Liberal) agenda.

Thanks Koch Bros. n’ Pals– you’ll suck because you’ve doomed the future of your own race. The only way to deal with global catastrophe. ironically enough; is Science.


I said that conservatives have discredited scientists (and science) in the eyes of their audience/constituents, and I think that’s an accurate statement.

I’m pretty sure he was being sarcastic. But if you read the climate denier blogs, rantings from James Inhofe, etc., they really do believe that.

I figured this this article would immediately set off the standard bigoted response by the socialist left.

Here’s a big hint: Socialists don’t run the car companies making electric cars. Tesla is run by a *gasp* unrepentant capitalist.

The fact is that most people here haven’t a CLUE what a conservative is.

The problem is that the labels “conservative” and “liberal” don’t mean much anymore. Similarly, “left” and “right” are no longer the same things either, or at least its sufficiently munged that it no longer carries much value.

However, the Republican Party, and various Republican oriented media spokespeople have made fools of themselves when it comes to climate change, evolution, and a host of science related debates.

Of course, there is also equal opportunity crap going on with anti-vaxxers and anti-GMO’ers that draw from across the political spectrum. Understanding science is hard sometimes.

However, given the leadership of the Republican Party and whom they choose to put into areas of actual power and their stances, it is clear that the Republican Party, in aggregate, is anti-science these days. It is politically convenient for them to be that way due to the economic situations of their largest donors.

I thought Sen. James Inhofe, Republican Chairman of the Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee, was a conservative. In an interview with Vic Eliason of Voice of Christian Youth America, he said, “God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”

“They [, George Soros, Michael Moore, the Al Gore, and the Hollywood elites] are perpetrating a hoax, and that hoax is that catastrophic global warming is taking place in the world now, and it’s due to manmade gases—CO2, carbon, methane, that type of thing—and what they want to do is just shut down this machine called America.”

Who better represents the average American conservative, James Inhofe or Jay Faison? Inhofe by a landslide.

“Inhofe by a landslide.”

I don’t think that’s true, and even Inhofe has moderated in recent comments about the effect of nuclear plant closures. He was there, for Waxman/Markey and now the EPA’s CPP. Graham supports CO2 effects, as do other R’s, and likely R-candidates.

With coal jobs sinking below solar jobs, partially due to the lower labor needs of mountain top mining and natural gas, the writing is on the wall that Republicans are well-advised to loosen the fossil albatross from their necks.

The fact is that most people here haven’t a CLUE what a socialist is. If they did, they would know that few socialists exist in America. I can’t name one person in America who favors public ownership of the means of production. I am sure there must be a few such people, but no one most people have ever heard of.

You’re certainly right in general, but here’s one exception: Bernie Sanders is a self-proclaimed socialist.

And we thank him for his honesty.

Even Bernie Sanders isn’t a real socialist. That would involve heavy government ownership of industry. He is a ‘Democratic Socialist’ . . . he’s similar to the Scandinavian governments.

And if you knew how Norway operates, you’d know that the state owns all oil production, thus “public control of the means of production”. That’s pretty much Socialism defined.

Which, coincidentally, is why they have a trust fund set up for every citizen to the tune of several million dollars each (ostensibly for the years after either oil can no longer be extracted from the North Sea, or when the market for oil dries up – pick one). And no national debt.

But Conservative Americans toss around the term “Socialist” to mean “anyone who’s not conservative enough”. Obama is considered a Socialist, for example, in spite of the fact that he’s basically pandering to the Right on everything.

I do know how Norway operates, having worked there. The government happened to own the area where oil was discovered and, not being idiots, declined to sell the areas to oil companies after the discovery of oil. Instead they lease out oil developments in a competitive process and tax the proceeds.

Its a pretty ferocious capitalist marketplace, where several US oil companies operate quite happily (“Taxes are high, but legislation is predictable”)

And it is very far away from socialism.

As I’ve said before, if you and or your children went to public school, prefer your roads well maintained, and don’t pay your local police department directly, then welcome to the Party, Comrade.

What we have is slightly more Socialistic than the average person understands.

You’re talking about communism, not socialism. (Contrary to many recent statements from the right, they are not the same thing.) The United States of America is, and always has been, a deeply socialist country.

Our government is socialist.
Our military is socialist.
Our police departments are socialist.
Our schools are socialist.
Our public roads are socialist.
Our bridges are socialist.
Our libraries are socialist.
Our fire departments are socialist.

And these are the easy things that virtually no one opposes. After that, we have other socialist programs like Medicare, Social Security, unemployment, disability, etc.

Anyone who tells you the U.S. isn’t socialist doesn’t know what socialism means.

Socialism is where the government runs things like the power company – companies that make things.

What you’re talking about are cost centres that basically a government must pay for because they could never actually make a profit for anyone, with the exception of schools (because education has long been a business). Find me a government on this planet that does not also run the military, I don’t care how free market they are.

“Socialism” is when a group of people decide to pool their resources and pay for things that may not necessarily be utilized or needed at the same rate these people are contributing. It is redistribution of wealth, which is not necessarily the same thing as the government seizing control of the means of production (communism).

To answer your question, there are several private militaries in Somalia that are not attached to the “official” federal government. As always, Somalia is the best real-world example of free-market libertarianism, unencumbered by meddlesome government interference.

What is the difference between the “conservative” environmental website and a standard “liberal” environmental website? Looks like the same old appeal to “discredited shill organizations”:

– liberal colleges (MIT)
– self-interested government bureaucrats (NASA, NOAA)
– Paid-off climate alarmists (NAS)

This website is no different than any of the dozens of other environmental websites, which is why it will be equally ineffective at piercing the conservative bubble on climate change.

Scott Franco, the greedy republican

4 posts on this story so far, and all four make wild claims about “socialism”.

You are definitely hurting your own cause.

I’ll remain cautiously optimistic.

The CLEARPATH.ORG website says:
“We empower people with information to take action that will accelerate a clean energy future and make America stronger and more prosperous.”

I like what this organization is doing.

A pragmatic approach to Energy Security that also benefits the environment is something that all Americans irrespective of political affiliation should embrace. The far-left and far-right zealots are equal in their effort to obstruct pragmatic change because such change requires being open to new ideas & embracing cooperative compromise.

@ CDavis – I agree with you completely. I am a conservative, and personally do not believe AGW is a significant issue. However, I care deeply for the environment. I drive a Leaf, am looking at options regarding home solar, and pay attention to the environment because I think it is very important. Conservatives and Liberals don’t have to agree on climate change to agree that the environment is important. Anyone standing behind a gasmobile for a few moments starts to cough, then stand behind my Leaf and breath easy. Same can be said when looking at a coal fired power plant vs solar panels. You don’t have to embrace climate change to know that some options are simply better for the environment, and we should work together on those issues where we have common ground.


Thank you for that rational comment. A dirty planet does not benefit anyone.

What has always struck me about EV’s is that they wear many hats. You can love them for environmental reasons, but if that doesn’t appeal to you you can love them for energy security reasons. If that still doesn’t appeal to you, you can love them for money saving thrift reasons. Either way, there are several paths to the same conclusion: love EV’s!

Well said! As such EVs should unite people of many backgrounds and views and provide common goals.

Or you could love them because they’re way more fun to drive! (especially in the city)

200 ppm is a mere anomaly, there are so many other reasons to go green. To base the whole movement on 200 ppm is to ignore many rational reasons to go green.

You will eventually realize that AGW is a real issue. After enough heat waves, floods, sea level rise, etc. . . . you’ll be forced to admit it. I just hope it isn’t too late by the time you and other conservatives finally figure it out.

As it is, I think we are already committed to losing a lot of low-lying cities. It will take 100+ years but the die is cast.

Nicely said. In fact, the constant socialst left basing of anyone who dares to be both environmentalist and Repulican/conservative serves NO purpose and just alienates a huge section of the environmentalist movement.

Scott — You demolished the point you were trying to make when you put in “socialst left”.

The “both sides do it” position is of little value when only one side actively works to discredit the scientists and scientific organizations providing the data on our environment.

Maybe one day reason will prevail in the US and Canadian conservative party…

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

-Upton Sinclair.

Canada makes a lot of money from that tars sands in Alberta. Similarly, Australia makes billions by selling coal such that they are now run by an idiot Tony Abbott. This big money heavily controls people’s thoughts about things.

I love the idea of community solar. Mostly because it is inclusive and one of the few investments that is useful and available to everyone.

In my wildest dreams I like to think efforts like this can help reduce the wealth gap.

Solar gardens climb a steep hill. Even in MA, there’s fighting over commercial vs. residential property tax. As TX utilities achieve 4-6 cent /kwh “utility scale” installations, they make compelling arguments about which way forward.

Utilities, like Nextera, are having success thwarting solar gardens, by pointing at the lead firms building them and characterizing them as utility-scale. Legislation must deal with this, and the exclusive right utilities in many states retain, to sell power. Facing the other side of the table, residential co-op owners also need to understand “virtual” net-metering, and how utilities are also attacking this concept, which in a nutshell deals with off-site ownership.

Things like getting net-metered out at closer to the wholesale rate, are better give-ups than losing other things like virtual net-metering or never having the right to sell power to your neighbor, another utility, etc. Working the enviro side in many states, I can say it is becoming a big bag of tricks (demand charges, etc.) that utilities are attempting to play. My own is going over its capacity cap rule, this morning!

If this is profitable the utilities will want to take over. As far as I’m concerned, that’s fine. Right now I don’t think it is profitable, at least in general, but a smart utility could try to set up something like this for their environmentally aware customers. The last thing they want is independent competition.

The question is – is solar cheaper than wholesale electricity costs from coal/NG/etc? Or just retail? If the latter, the utilities would be incentivized to keep the dirty energy. Through the magic of net metering, the customers can benefit as soon as it is cheaper than retail electricity.

If you factor in the clean up costs for wholesale electricity from fossil fuels, solar is cheaper. Coal slurry breaches, well water contamination, mercury contamination of food supply are all very expensive to cleanup.

Ok, but who pays for those things? The utilities? Or the tax payers? Of course, if they are not cleaned up, we all pay with our health. My point was more for economic motivation of utilities. I am all for – by the way – internalizing the cost of externalities. The “free market” is a bad moral/environmental guide to begin with. Having unpaid externalities only makes it worse.

Sure, cause we all know that the socialst economies have done such good work with the environment.

Back in 1998 I rode the Trans-Siberian from Beijing to Moscow, then went from St. Petersburg to Berlin. In what used to be East Germany you could tell the old West German border was coming up soon because the trees went from grey to green in a matter of 30 miles. The coal power plants in Russian, Poland and East Germany were filthy beasts.

China is killing hundreds of thousands of its citizens a year with air pollution. Is that what Marx had in mind?

We need to get way from these labels.

Complete government control without any semblance of a market system isn’t good. A complete laissez-fair capitalist system without oversight isn’t good. I don’t think anyone is looking for either extremes.

The issue is, how do we deal with externalities that are not baked into the market system? How do we keep a rational, free market that works for us as a people? A free market does not mean one without regulations or oversight. Matter of fact, that can easily devolve into a non-market with a monopoly exploiter.

I’m pretty tired of left vs. right debates, especially when ideology comes in without any real purpose. We need realistic solutions.

“A free market does not mean one without regulations or oversight.”

Actually, that’s exactly what it means; and that’s the trouble. Capitalists keep saying “We want a free market.” Well, back in the days of the rail barons and the Standard Oil monopoly we saw the results of a “free market”. What we really need, what really benefits society as a whole, is a competitive market, and that means one that is regulated in certain respects. Regulations are needed to, for example, prevent monopolies and stock manipulations.

Competitive market, not “free” market.

Bingo. Efficient (i.e. competitive) markets don’t exist without government regulation.

Please tell me where I proposed a socialist market.

A truly free market cares only about the bottom line; profits. If certain costs are externalized (i.e. not realized by the decision maker), then they will be ignored. And there is a huge gap between a truly free market and a truly socialist one. America resides somewhere in that gap. Proper market regulations can help bring these externalities to bear on the decisions of those in the market. And of course regulations can be abused, used to pick winners and losers, etc. But that doesn’t mean we throw the idea away.

USA fossil fuel industries ARE socialist enterprises. They take a huge part of the cost of doing business (the damage to the atmosphere with pollution & greenhouse gases) and foist those costs onto the public.

And as if that is not bad enough, anytime they have some chemical leak or whatever, they just declare bankruptcy and foist those costs onto the public.

That is something conservatives need to realize.

And no one is proposing a socialist economy. Set up another straw man.

“the utilities would be incentivized to keep the dirty energy”

Like all government created monopolies, the electrical utilities are self interested. However, any time the press bothers to poll the general public, the answer is that people favor paying a premium for clean energy, and would do it given a chance.

If the electric utilities were deregulated, it would be a different world. And that means REALLY deregulated, not the faux deregulation that was put forth in the socialst republic of California.

In our sunshine state, deregulation would allow companies to re purpose the electrical lines to deliver backup power for solar households, instead of the regulatory scam it presently is. As things are, the utility is a creature that will hold on to its power until it dies, much like the phone company before it.

“Scott Franco, the greedy republican” said:

“…the socialst [sic] republic of California.”

Scott, if you want the conversation to move away from the — in your words — “standard bigoted response”, then you need to quit posting standard bigoted responses.

Should the external costs of producing electricity from fossil fuels be reflected in the price, or should fossil fuel using producers be subsidized by allowing them to use the air and water as open sewers for sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, particulates, and toxic metals like mercury and lead?

It is estimated by a Harvard Medical School study that an additional 18 cents per kWh would have to added to the cost of fossil fuel generated electricity to pay for these external costs, rendering it noncompetitive with electricity generated by wind and solar and about everything else.

In Texas, we have a deregulated market. You can choose your electricity plan from an online marketplace, but the prices offered by fossil fuel using producers don’t reflect external costs. In other words, their prices are subsidized by the public. Not really a level playing field for clean energy producers, is it?

“In our sunshine state, deregulation would allow companies to re purpose the electrical lines to deliver backup power for solar households, instead of the regulatory scam it presently is.”

And the effects of load-loss, on earnings as these utilities become back-up? How does that work in a for-profit world that crucifies those who aren’t growing, let alone shrinking?

I saw a midwest AEP argument, made by their COO yesterday, that two teslas “fast” charging at home would blow a transformer if on the same street. So, I think perhaps Scott might already acknowlege that utilities play the regulations. Therefore, I agree with deregulation if it will change the for-profit utility mindset from always trying to angle for something new, that they claim is necessary but really isn’t.

Imagine, two 80 amp draws frying AEP’s lines. AEP knows this won’t happen, but would love to put in a fancier unit, at 110% of cost, if they can gull their regulator and the public. Shame on Robert Powers, for miss-characterising the issue.

Scott — 4th out of 4 posts bashing “socialism”, I stopped reading at “socialst republic of California”.

whatever point you were trying to make, you sunk yourself, and have nobody to blame but yourself for that.

Solar is getting pretty cheap. It is near impossible to compete against an existing plant that has already had its CAPEX paid down. But utility scale solar PV is very close to the price of new coal plants.

However, there is the intermittency issue that requires lots of geographic diversity, source diversity, demand-response, storage, dispatchable back-up, and other techniques to address.

How refreshing to hear from a true conservative; one who has not forgotten that part of being a conservative is to conserve our natural resources, and to make prudent investments in the future.

Too bad that’s such a rare breed these days.

And it’s wonderful to see someone promoting community solar power. I think that over the next decade or two, that’s going to become a very important part of moving our culture to clean energy.

For Scott and others who don’t think that science and scientists aren’t under attack by Corporations and their mainly Republican allies like the Koch heads I dare you to read this latest tactic being used to squelch scientists:

Yes, and go rent (or buy) ‘The Merchants of Doubt’. There are folks who don’t really have an agenda. They are guys just paid to create mayhem (it all started in the tobacco world). You will meet a guy named Mark Morano, who will tell you that gridlock is their friend…and he enjoys releasing email addresses for climate researchers so that his fans can send death threats and other foul, insulting email to these (relatively boring) scientists.

The Republican party does not believe in global warming.

Pretty much. Lindsay Graham is the ONLY GOP presidential candidate that seems to admit that it is a real issue.

Bob Inglis is also the GOP climate warrior. They are an extremely rare breed. The GOP is pretty much owned by oil & gas interests.