The Podcast: Former governor Phil Bredesen brings solar power to the little guy

The Podcast

The Podcast: Former governor Phil Bredesen brings solar power to the little guy

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The Honorable Phil Bredesen went from Tennessee governor to Southern solar tycoon. Now his new startup Clearloop is helping smaller business sponsor solar to offset their carbon emissions. Also: Host Jared Downing, a southerner himself, explores the geography of America’s solar power and discovers that the South is not doing so poorly. (Interview at minute 1:55. Commentary at 20:25.)

In this episode…

  • First, host Jared Downing opens with a plug for our list of favorite climate books for the holiday season, if you’re looking for a gift for your climate-minded friend — or just want to annoy your alt-right cousin.
  • Next, former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen discusses Clearloop, a startup that allows businesses anywhere in the country to fund solar power in the South and take credit the offset. Though Clearloop does cater to major companies, it also gives smaller businesses a way to reduce their carbon footprints. Bredesen also defends the concept of carbon offsetting in general, which is often criticized for allowing companies to claim to be “sustainable” without actually changing their operations. Bredesen points out that some sectors have a hard limit on the amount of carbon they can actually cut, and that we shouldn’t forego short-term gains while waiting for institutional change.
  • Finally, Jared — who hails from Alabama — crunches the numbers to determine solar capacity per capita in the U.S. As it turns out, the South is not doing so poorly for solar: It produces less than California and other western states, but more than the midwest and northeastern states.


Written by

Jared Downing

Jared Downing is managing editor of Climate & Capital Media. Before Climate&Capital, he spent five years in Yangon, Myanmar, producing the human rights podcast Doh Athan and producing features, columns, and cartoons for Frontier Myanmar, that country's leading English language magazine. Prior to that, he was a freelance writer in Birmingham Alabama, focusing on city culture and social justice.