SEI’s origins date back to 1993 when Alan Miller and Tatsujiro Suzuki were involved in creating the U.S.-Japan Energy Experts Network for the Presidio Pacific Center. The Network held three workshops designed to facilitate a frank exchange of opinions among U.S. and Japanese energy experts and among different energy industry sectors (renewables, nuclear, natural gas, efficiency and conservation, and including government, industry and NGO representatives). Miranda Schreurs and Steve Fetter were among the experts participating in these workshops. Through the further efforts of Miranda Schreurs, Germany was added to the Network and a fourth workshop was held in Berlin in June 2000, which was expanded in scope to include the transportation sector. The workshops were based on the concept of “transcultural dialogue” and the participants worked in a cooperative rather than competitive spirit.
In parallel, Neil Numark organized a project in 1999 through his consulting firm that facilitated an exchange of views in a manner similar to the work being done by the Energy Experts Network, but limited to the specific subject of nuclear energy policy. The Nuclear Top Ten, 1999 report resulted from this effort and provided in-depth interviews with a wide range of key lawmakers and other leading decision-makers on the major issues in the nuclear energy debate in the United States.
Following the publication of this report, these five individuals who were to become the initial directors of SEI agreed to establish a new, independent public policy forum for the exchange of perspectives on a wide range of energy issues, in the hopes of making a significant contribution to the development of sustainable energy policies and practices in the United States and abroad. This organization would work not only to promote dialogue and debate on energy policy, but to convey these exchanges of viewpoints among energy leaders to the broader policymaking community and to the general public. The resulting Sustainable Energy Institute was incorporated in January 2000 and approved by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organization in June 2000.
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