In Marin / CONVERSATION
MARIN RESIDEN TS ARE faith- ful early adopters, says Eric Heitz, especially when it comes to electric cars, solar panels and other clean-
energy technologies. So it’s only fitting that he
helped found the Energy Foundation, a part-
nership of philanthropic investors promoting
cutting-edge clean energy, right here at home.
Now based in San Francisco with a satellite office in North Carolina, the 23-year-old
foundation uses targeted grants to support
clean-energy technologies and policies from
coast to coast, as well as throughout China.
Working with donors including the William
and Flora Hewlett, David and Lucile Packard,
McKnight, Pisces and Schmidt Family foundations, it provides roughly 300 grants per
year in the United States and 200 in China.
In 2012, the latest year for which figures are
available, it issued more than $76 million to
346 grantees worldwide.
As president of the Energy Foundation,
Heitz has overseen its operations in both
China and the U.S. since 1991. The Mill Valley
resident holds a bachelor’s degree in energy
and environmental planning and a master’s in
civil engineering, both from Stanford.
For starters, what are the largest clean-energy technologies and markets the
foundation is targeting today? We see promise in building big markets for both renewable
energy and energy efficiency. There’s really a
lot of promise in these new technologies, and
the markets are growing. For example, wind
is growing massively. Last year, more wind
power was installed than any other single
energy source in the United States. Solar
power has been growing as well. The price of
solar has gone down fivefold in the last few
years, and it’s going to continue to drop. We’re
working with many different types of grantees
across all walks of society to try to advance
markets for these technologies.
How do you identify and select your grantees?
We try to find a pragmatic mix of technical
experts, health experts, people who work
across partisan lines and leading thinkers to
The Mill Valley resident is helping to bring clean-energy
technologies and policies to the nation and China.
BY NATE SELTENRICH • PHOTOS BY TIM PORTER