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Episode 23 Transcript: Los Angeles Has Entered the Pool

The complete episode 23 transcript.

Episode 23 Transcript: Los Angeles Has Entered the Pool

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Welcome to Everybody in the Pool, the podcast for the climate economy. We dive deep into the climate crisis and come up with solutions. I'm Molly Wood.

This week … we're going local … to LA … where a highly effective organization called the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator … or LACI … has been nurturing … investing in … commercializing … and advising businesses in the cleantech industry … since 2011.

Because first of all … I love the impact that can be made LOCALLY … and this is a super interesting example of public and private money coming together to kickstart and actually implement … innovation and new ideas and entrepreneurship and ACTION.

And now … with the Olympics coming to town in 2028 … the group has an ambitious goal … to try to … basically … decarbonize L-A … by the time the Games arrive.

Why not, right? I love a deadline!

First … let's find out a little more about what this outfit … actually is.

Matt Petersen:I'm Matt Peterson, the president and c e o of the LA Clean Tech Incubator. Our mission is to create an inclusive green economy, and we're doing it in three ways, incubating startups, and really leaning in, in particular to help underrepresented founders. Uh, transforming markets through catalytic partnerships and policies and pilots, and then enhancing communities through workforce training and other programs to really focus on how we engage communities in, uh, the green economy and really bring the benefits to the green economy, to disadvantaged communities.

Molly Wood:

tell me a little bit about the organization. Who, where does the funding come from and how long ago did it start?

Matt Petersen:Yeah, the, the organization, the LA Clean Tech Incubator, or Lacey, started, uh, in earnest from 2011, I think was one that was incorporated. Um, there was an effort. A couple years before that, uh, that was led by Mayor Antonio Osa. At the time, Antonio was looking to use the manufacturing legacy in Los Angeles and build on that and create a clean tech ecosystem here in Los Angeles to make l a d leader in clean tech. Um, you know, then recession hit and things like Lyra happened, but the momentum was already there, uh, for the organization to be founded. our campus, uh, was also, uh, uh, born at least as an idea. And that took enormous effort by half of the city to build this 60,000 square foot campus we're in.

And it's, you know, we're an independent 5 0 1 C three, but we have this lease agreement with the city. We have a someone from the Department of Water Power, which owns the building, which is the municipal utility that the city owns, sits on our board as a board observer. And, uh, so it's this, you know, unique situation. It's really the city's led and innovating and, uh, and recognized that, okay, well as a city, we're not suited to run the incubator. We're certainly not run, uh, Uh, uh, we're really not suited to run the facility either. It's innovation space, so let's have a nonprofit, uh, do that.

And so those, that, those are the people that founded the organization, really, you know, worked side by side with the city to build the campus and, uh, inform what the space should do and how it should function. And, uh, anyways, so fast forward, um, the campus had opened in 2016 officially. Uh, I joined in middle of 2017 after being with the mayor and being on the board of Lacey, uh, and came in and said, all right, well, let's really Bring in more outside resources. 'cause the dollars that we were getting were largely from the city,

um, and from the state. Um, so we increased the amount of state funding we get. Um, we, uh, but also really increased the corporate funding and then began to get some foundation funding.

Molly Wood:Um, and then tell me about the companies. How, like, what is, is the thesis kind of decarbonization writ broad, you know, writ large? How do you choose the, the fellows for these programs?

Matt Petersen:

Or our thesis is transportation, electrification, clean energy and circular economy as part of a broader sustainable cities category that we've prioritized first and foremost. And so we see companies like we've had, um, well, one of our later stage companies, AMP Air is going through the multi-year process of f a, a approval of getting the first hybrid electric airplane

certified by the f a a.

Um, the, uh, you know, another company Charger help. we're proud that played a, a role in, in their founding and, and more importantly, they're out there hiring and employing people at 35 to $45 an hour on average, uh, to a diagnose and fix charging stations when they don't work, which 80% of the time it's for a non-electrical issue. So you need somebody that's an IT technician really to. to. understand, is it the wifi that's down? Is it the software that has an update that's needed or the firmware? So, uh, great company, um, uh, and they're scaling nationally and we've invested in them as well. Um, another company. The, the first market they entered into was La Spark Charge.

Um, Josh Aviv is the co-founder. We found Josh, uh, through a startup competition we did in 2019 called the California Climate Cup. And he and his company were the Grand Prize winner. And while they weren't based in LA, they wanted to move and into the LA market. Um, and so they joined the program Pandemic Hits.

They'd raised. Their seed round and went on Spark, uh, spark charge, uh, cope. Uh, you know, Josh went on Shark Tank,

Molly Wood:


Matt Petersen:clean tech startup founder, uh, to get investment on the show. Uh, mark Cuban did a million dollars. Of course, the terms weren't great for Spark

Charge and never our on Shark tank really, for the founders.

But, but it actually closed. But he needed money to, to begin to deploy in the market, which was part of his investment round, you know, Plan that that he was gonna use the proceeds to invest in key markets. Um, so he hired, we gave him a small loan out of our microloan program. We, we, we were piloting at $40,000.

He was able to hire two staff in la, um, uh, leased the vans that to use

for his mobile charging service and, um, started putting product in market.

Molly Wood:

And then just to put a finer point on the funding mechanisms, there's, this is, it sounds very public, private, so there's a, a loan fund, but there's also a venture fund. What can you tell me about that? How big is the fund and is that, you know, traditional kind of returns based

LP based?

Matt Petersen:

yeah. The goal is of course to have, um, market rate returns. Uh, but everybody who's investing with us knows that we're here

for impact. Um, so clean tech impact first, but also looking to lean in to invest in women and black and brown founders who, you know, in TechCrunch data 2022, 1% of all venture capital went into women founded companies and 2% into black and brown founded companies. It's just a huge barrier to access to capital.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Time for a quick break. When we come back, let's talk 2028 … the year the Olympic Games are arriving in LA … and how LACI and the city of Los Angeles … are trying to make sure they're not a SETBACK … to their green goals … but actually a catalyst … for bigger ambitions.

Welcome back to Everybody in the Pool. We're talking with Matt Petersen … C-E-O of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator … which is funding and supporting green innovation in LA and beyond.

Molly Wood:

Um, . All right. I could talk about the investment side of the house all day, but let's talk about this, um, effort to decarbonize LA by 2028, which happens to be the date, uh, the year that the Olympics are coming to Los Angeles. Right. Tell me about this effort and, and why the Olympics are kind of like, you know, gave you this deadline idea,

Matt Petersen:

Uh, yeah, good question. When I was in the mayor's office, mayor Garcetti would had led a bid, uh, for the LA 20 for, for the, for the Olympics. It was really, it was bidding on 2024 Olympics. And, uh, you know, we, uh, Bo, the US Olympic Committee ended up picking Boston initially and LA had lost and sort of, but, but you know, it was in the initial pitch there was like, Hey, let's, let's get enough solar power, uh, installed and generating by the time the Olympics that the equivalent of the games needs are met through solar.

And so that was some initial ideas were in the bed and so

sort of stuck with me. And then when Boston pulled out and LA became the Uh, the us uh, bid. Um, and then later, uh, you know, Paris and LA were selected and it was sort of like a, who got, who's, who got to go first. Um, LA went second and that, that just gave us this enormous window of the time, 11 years to really think about, uh, or 10 years, uh, roughly it was 11 at the time. Um, in 2017, I think was when it was awarded it to really lean in and see How we can use this as a moment. Uh, 1984 games were really catalytic here, brought the region together in a way that it never had before. It's a complex region, 88 cities within the county of Los Angeles alone. Um, and there's, you know, over a million people that live in the unincorporated area of Kelly County.

So it's a whole nother big city. How do you work together? And so we also knew coming outta the mayor's office that transportation electrification was gonna be a huge lift and even though we saw the increased investment and a lot of great things happening and great policies outta California and the city of Los Angeles, it's a big lift.

So we announced the Transportation Electrification partnership in 2018. It, um, you know, we, we, we had, uh, corporate private sector members like B M W come on board early on Nissan. Uh, and others and Audi is joined later. We had E v Ss c char charge, ev charging companies. We had the utilities, we had Metropolitan Transit Authority.

We had the county, the mayor, uh, all join, uh, uh, the Air Resources Board in Southern California. Edison, the course, department of Water and Power say, let's, let's do this. Let's, let's do this. So we're five years in. We're, uh, making progress. You know, we can't take credit for everything. Uh, but when we set the target for 80% of the cars to be sold in 20 by 20, 28 across LA County, people thought we were crazy. But thanks to everybody at the table and 'cause Air Resources Board and California Energy Commission and others are all critical to this, uh, uh, we've seen 25% of the car sold in California be

Molly Wood:

And then let me,and and it's rapidly rising. little more explicit when you say, let's do this, uh, What is the, this, so we know that, for example, when the games come to town, there's a lot, there's, you know, transportation challenge, there's a lot more traffic. There's all of that. Were you kind of saying, all right, because we know that this is gonna happen, let's use this as a, a big push for electrification, not of the games themselves, but of the city in advance of the games

Matt Petersen:

exactly. So thank you. Yeah, I kind of glossed over that this, what is the, this We did, we did. Yeah. We, we definitely wanted to have a moment when ev, when the visitors, when the thousands and

thousands of people come to Los Angeles for the 2028 Olympic games, the visitors, the athletes, the media, uh, that they could move

carbon free through Los Angeles, through public transit, through rideshare through. You name it. Um, and that ideally, how could we get the goods that serve the Olympics also be able to move carbon free

to their destination? So we set about, you know, really detailed modeling. We, we set a goal initially of let's, let's increase reduction, uh, let's increase, um, GH h g reductions by 25%, um, by the time of the games beyond where we were at 2018.

And so we did the modeling. Um, we looked at How would you downscale the state's goals to the countywide approach? We used Governor Brown's executive order he had released in 2018 as the base, the baseline, did the planning, the modeling, and then played with the noobs and dials. All right, well, if we increase, uh, the number of light duty EVs on the road from 20 to 30% by 2028, Um, we can reduce the number of long range trucks that need to be zero emissions by then. Uh, but let's increase the number of medium duty electric vans for last mile delivery to 60%. Oh, and let's put in 40% of the dredge trucks to be zero emissions by 2028. All with market intelligence and understanding of what was coming. Some emphasis like on the dry edge trucks a big, big focus. 'cause when I was in the mayor's office, one of the last things I helped. Mary Garce to get Dunn was this joint, uh, commitment of cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles to a hundred percent Zimmers and Dred trucks by

Molly Wood:

And what is a, um, what is we weren't able to get Ma, is it? D Dr. Edge, Dre

Matt Petersen:

A drayage truck. D D R A Y A G E. It's a class

eight heavy duty truck that we've seen on the road, but it, what it does, its sole purpose is to move the containers from the port.

Molly Wood:

Got it.

Matt Petersen:

when it comes off the ship. So comes on a crane, gets put on a truck, sometimes a train. A train, but often on the truck first. And those are

dirty older diesel trucks and they're highly polluting and they move through neighborhoods that are already incredibly polluted as it is. So how can we


to zero mission?

So we had gotten this big policy commitment later, became part of the joint port. Clean air action plan that there would be a hundred percent reserve emission DR. Trucks, but still no milestones. Like how do you, you know, without any milestones to work towards between that date of when we set it in 2017 to 2035, it's gonna be hard to get get there.

So we took it upon ourselves to set that. So it's sort of this 2020 targets that interim target to really rally and organize. You can go out there and try to advocate for the dollar. So we've been part, we've led a coalition that got a hundred million dollars in the state budget a couple years ago for zero emission dredge truck infrastructure, uh, meaning charging primarily.

'cause most of the trucks are battery electric, but potentially could be hydrogen, uh,

green hydrogen fueling. Um, and. ,uh, and what are the other barriers? But like, on the light duty side, we knew we needed to get more chargers in at workplace and at, uh, and multi-unit dwelling. So we looked, we focused initiatives around there. Um, we also knew we needed to get more access to EVs for lower income families. We did ev car share pilots to see what worked on public housing and in low income communities. To see how it, it didn't be adopted. We took those lessons and got state and federal legislation, um, to scale those sort of ed car share programs and, uh, with public subsidy to reduce the costs so that it's affordable for long-term families to use an EV who often don't have access to adequate transit, let alone access to a reliable car. Um, and some things in life, you really, you know, a car isreally important for or helpful. Versus

I'm afraid. Yeah.

Molly Wood:

especially in la Um,

Matt Petersen:


Molly Wood:


Matt Petersen:

So those, those things all kind of roll up to this partnership and setting these bold targets in 2018 and, and then releasing sort of a 2.0 version of the roadmap with more of refined targets in 2019 and the work since.

And it's, it really is a true public-private

Molly Wood:then talk to me about, okay, so this is, so the games are this catalyst to make these big leaps forward, if you will. Um, and then to what extent are you attemptingto influence, like you said, you wanna create a virtual power plant to provide the equivalent of the games, but it sounds like they were at least also, um, Offering a blueprint to the actual committee, right, the Olympic Committee to consider in terms of power usage, like to what extent are you working with

I mean,

games themselves?

Matt Petersen:

yeah, we did a, we did a, um, Well, I mean, we don't, we, I, we don't speak on behalf of the, uh, Olympic,

uh, uh, and Paralympic games, and we don't speak on behalf of LA 28. They're, they, you know, they, the Olympic rings are highly

sacred, and, and so we never pretend to, to, to, to do speak

on their behalf in any way.

But they also welcome us to use The ti, the, the run up to the games and the

games themselves as a catalyst. And so we have folks increasingly participate from LA 28 in our conversations. Um, the, uh, one thing that we've done officially publicly together, um, uh, was a R F I. Uh, we want, we jointly applied for money from the California Energy Commission and we wanted, uh, To help the games and they were interested to, to get our help to see how can there be mobile charging solutions that can help meet the needs of the electric buses that will be here, um, to move past, you know, visitors to from park and ride or different locations to the Olympic venues. How do other needs for electric vehicles will be supporting the games? Get those, those charging needs met. Now the one thing the games has been clear on in LA is that there'll be no new infrastructure built, um,

for just the games, but they also acknowledge their role as a catalyst. So if in metro, as they move to more electric buses serving public transit system, how can the games be a catalyst, um, for that infrastructure investment? So that's what this R f I is looking at. we're really grateful for them to be at the table with us and really spend a lot of fun and learned a lot together with this, this R F I that we did what we called going for gold.

Molly Wood:

Uh, there, you know, it's . It's like a double-edged sword when a city wins this Olympic visit. Um, uh, and it seems that we have heard a lot in the last couple of decades about how about the negative externalities that can occur when the Olympics come to town.

And so would you say that this is a really specific effort to like not only. Reduce negative externalities, but have it be just unquestionably like a positive outcome.

Matt Petersen:Yeah, I mean that's certainly our intention. Um, And you know, I think again, from the narrative, uh, and the commitment of the LA 28 committee of not building new infrastructure that leads to, you know, um, stranded assets, as they say, unutilized facilities that were just for the games. Um, we're certainly entering into it as a spirit through our partnerships of, alright, the games are happening. There's, uh, you know, how do we avoid the negative impact? In fact, how do we use it as an opportunity? To accelerate progress in Los Angeles on, um, climate and, uh, investment and disadvantaged communities. And, and I know Ali 20 eight's beginning to think about sort of the legacy projects. You know, tree planning, obviously as they always are for the game.

So we piece of it, but you know, they're thinking about what other things that could be left behind. And in our case, you know, what, what charging infrastructure could get in place, what clean energy with battery storage it could get in place that may have happened well, but it would take, would've taken a lot longer. Um, and just increase the resiliency and the emissions. Uh, reduce the emissions and increase the innovation, um, investment in Los Angeles.

Molly Wood:

Matt Peterson, thank you so much for the time. I appreciate it.

Matt Petersen:

Thank you, Molly.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Now … I could probably do an entire episode or 3 about the carbon footprint of the Olympic Games … it is fascinating … sustainability is a pillar of the games … but a study published in Nature in 2021 … found that prior to the Tokyo Olympics …

the most sustainable games were 2002 in Salt Lake City … and that 2014 in Sochi and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro … were the worst.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were said to be the most eco-friendly games yet … the medals were made of scarce metals recovered from used electronics … the podiums were recycled plastic … but experts said the main reason those games had a far lower carbon footprint than previous events …

Was because of the pandemic … some 110 thousand FEWER personnel … meaning media … judges … marketing folks … I-O-C personnel and so on … flew to attend the games …saving about 130 thousand tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Derp.

That's it for this episode of Everybody in the Pool. Thank you so much for listening.

Email me your thoughts and suggestions to in at everybody in the pool dot com and find all the latest episodes and more at everybody in the pool dot com, the website. And if you want to become a subscriber and get an ad free version of the show, hit the link in the description in your podcast app of choice.

Thank you to those of you who already have. See you next week.

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