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Exclusive: DOE unveils FESI foundation's board members

Illustration of a green round table with the Earth as the top of the table.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Department of Energy has selected 13 board members from across the investment community and industry for its newly formed foundation.

Why it matters: The DOE's foundation could help provide alternative ways to fund the energy transition by collaborating with the private sector, philanthropy and communities.

Catch up quick: The foundation, called the Foundation for Energy Security and Innovation (or FESI), will be the DOE's first nonprofit and was authorized by the CHIPS Act in 2022.

  • Other government arms like the National Institutes of Health and the Central Intelligence Agency have their own foundations that fund companies and projects.
  • Vanessa Chan, chief commercialization officer for the DOE, described FESI in an interview as "an additional tool in the toolkit for DOE to be driving important things including technology commercialization." Chan is the formal liaison between the DOE and FESI.
  • The foundation can raise philanthropic funding and pick projects that are being excluded from the current DOE programs.

The big picture: FESI is being launched with deep roots in climate tech investing and broader industry.

  • From the investment world: DBL Partners' Nancy Pfund, Bezos Earth Fund's Noël Bakhtian, Breakthrough Energy's Mike Boots, Builders Initiative's Noelle Laing and Yucatán Rock Ventures' Stephen Pearse.
  • From industry: Miranda Ballentine, former Air Force and Walmart leader, BP's Tomeka McLeod, National Grid's Rudolph Wynter, and Johnson Controls' Kathleen McGinty.
  • Former government officials Rita Baranwal and Vicky A. Bailey also joined the board, as did Purdue University president Mung Chiang and the BlueGreen Alliance's Jason Walsh.
  • Four non-voting members come from DOE leadership, including Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Chan.

What's next: The new board members will be inaugurated Thursday in Washington, and the list includes many names that the climate tech investing community will recognize.

  • The board will need to self-organize, appoint roles and start fundraising.
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