Preston Roper, executive VP
Tech Positive: Renew investment tax credits
Tech Negative: Constantly changing energy policy
Tech Favorite: Obama
San Mateo, California-based Tioga Energy is a renewable energy startup with more than $14 million in investment capital from Nth Power, NGEN, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, RockPort, and Capital Partners. Founded in 2007, the company operates its own solar electricity facilities. Through long-term power purchase agreements, the company wants to provide affordable renewable energy.
Tioga Energy executive Preston Roper spoke with Red Herring about his presidential pick for 2008’s Super Tuesday.
RH - What would you like the next U.S. president to do to benefit tech companies?
Preston - The biggest thing that I would want to see is a cap and trade mechanism that brings the market forces to bear in a way that levels the field with traditional energy sources. The true cost of oil and its use are not accounted for today. Climate change, health issues—nobody is paying for that. A cap and trade policy would allow companies within the renewables sector to flourish, because then we are actually at parity or below parity with traditional fuel types.
RH - What’s something a president could do that would harm the U.S. tech industry?
Preston - I don’t want to see what President Bush just did with the Energy and Security Act. We can’t have a policy which is constantly changing or up to the whim of the political winds. We need something long lasting. That’s the only way that you can make the proper investments.
RH - Do you have a favorite candidate?
Preston - We need somehow to capture people’s imagination, and it’s not only policy and paper and legislation. But it’s also having people believe that there is longevity to policy and that there is also a vision. And I do see a slight advantage in the Obama campaign on that front.
RH - Which candidate are VCs and tech execs most excited about?
Preston - In general, I think that it would be on the democratic side that there would be a little bit more openness to innovation and new businesses. I definitely get that sense from everybody I talk to in the clean tech and the renewables area. Specifically, which of the candidates that they look for, I’m not sure.
RH - Prediction?
Preston - I think it will be McCain and one of the other two. At this point, I would give a slight advantage to Obama. I wouldn’t have said that a month ago. I would have said Clinton for sure. I think Obama is a slightly better candidate against McCain.
RH - Has your company made any campaign contributions?
Preston - We’re a startup in a stage where we’re not actively engaged. So no, we’re not supporting any candidates directly.