Dan Adler, California Clean Energy Fund: Seed-stage energy investments

As a senior analyst in the Division of Strategic Planning at the California Public Utilities Commission, Dan Adler designed California's ambitious clean energy policy, which put a 20 percent target on renewable energy use by the Golden State's utilities by the year 2010.

Four years ago, Adler moved over to the California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF), a non-profit venture capital entity created to enhance innovation in clean energy by funding early-stage startups. CalCEF is an "evergreen" fund that reinvests any profits in additional startups or research programs in renewables and energy efficiency.

In 2006, CalCEF raised a $30 million fund that Adler now helps oversee as president of the organization. Last year Adler oversaw the creation of a follow-on fund specifically targeting angel-type investments of $500,000 or less. Adler is an expert in renewable energy policy at both the national and state level and has the rare perspective of both a regulator and an investor. I got a chance to speak with Adler at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum West last week. Here are edited excerpts: