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Expert Voices: Reuben Munger wants a sure bet

Photo illustration of Reuben Munger in front of graphic shapes and cut-outs of trees and city scenes

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: Bryan Grant/Pixil Studio/Vision Ridge

Reuben Munger started Vision Ridge Partners, his investment firm that focuses on sustainability, in 2008, after working at The Baupost Group, Megan writes.

Why he matters: The Boulder, Colorado-based firm raised $1.25 billion for its latest investment fund in 2021, and has roughly $2.45 billion in AUM and takes large growth equity stakes in sustainability companies across energy and real estate.

  • Munger also ran an electric mobility company, Bright Automotive, during his tenure at Vision Ridge. The company went out of business in 2012.

The below has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What, in your view, has been the big story in clean energy/climate tech this week?

  • Since September, natural gas prices have plummeted in the U.S. from over $9 to $5 per MMBTU and from €225 to €40 per MWH in Europe. This volatility causes investment uncertainty and is a direct result of dependence on a flow-driven commodity. Sustainable infrastructure can yield returns that are not made or broken on the back of volatile fossil fuel commodities.

What would you add to the narrative?

  • The energy transition ultimately insulates economies and asset owners from volatility. Much of last year’s inflation is due to upward volatility in fossil fuel commodities and their derivatives. Climate positive solutions increase security and reduce volatility for investors and the economic system.

By contrast, what is not receiving the attention you feel it deserves?

  • Gasoline prices have fallen significantly but diesel prices have remained highly elevated, harming fleets and particularly school budgets. The first wave of EPA funding from the Infrastructure Act is rolling out this week, as the opportunity to save money for schools while increasing student health will accelerate over the next year.

In three-ish words, what change would you make to clean energy/climate-tech investing?

  • Capital scale exists. The problem of funding the energy transition is not a lack of financial capacity but that too much is still pointed at the old energy system.
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