How can Virginia become a clean energy and technology powerhouse?

Atop one of Rosslyn’s tall towers in a conference room overlooking the Potomac River a diverse group of 30 leaders met to brainstorm about Virginia’s potential to become a clean energy and technology powerhouse for the world.

The Clean Energy and Technology Roundtable was organized and sponsored by Ascent VA under the leadership of volunteer Vijetha Huffman, a long-time energy expert. It took place on September 19th, coincidently the eve of worldwide climate strike which filled area streets with protestors the very next day.

Participants in the Roundtable came from a wide range of fields that included the solar, wind and utility industries and less well-known domains such as microgrids, carbon capture, new materials, and energy storage. Members of the Arlington County Board participated as well. 

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Mike Lenox, professor of business administration at the UVA’s Darden School of Business facilitated the Roundtable. He agilely guided participants through a robust discussion of the major barriers to Virginia becoming a clean energy/tech leader and then led an upbeat and lively conversation on viable solutions.

Mike Lenox

Mike Lenox

Virginia’s Sen. Tim Kaine provided a keynote address offering a hopeful assessment of Virginia’s strengths and possibilities.

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Sen. Tim Kaine

Vivek Patil, the co-founder of Ascent VA painted the vision of how Virginia is perfectly poised with the requisite assets to manifest this huge challenge.

During the event Vivek furiously scribbled notes, seeking to capture all of the salient points made by participants. The next step for Ascent VA is to synthesize the Roundtable discussion and consult with participants to create an “Energy Action Playbook.” That playbook will outline strategies for moving Virginia toward the clean tech leadership Ascent VA envisions for the commonwealth.


(Left to right) Vijetha Huffman, energy expert and event lead; Sen. Tim Kaine; Lora Strine, Ascent steering committee lead for government engagement; Ascent co-founders, Jan Canterbury and Vivek Patil; and Mira Huffman, event volunteer.

The evening before the day of the Roundtable, participants mingled, laughed and built bridges during a dinner reception at the “Dew Drop Inn,” the name given to her home by Ascent VA’s co-founder Jan Canterbury.

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