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Democrats hear hedge fund exec Steyer discuss clean energy

Hedge fund icon Thomas F. Steyer addressed the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night, discussing the importance of clean energy as a differentiating factor in the upcoming presidential election.

Mr. Steyer, co-managing partner and co-senior managing member of Farallon Capital Management, introduced himself in his six-minute speech as “a businessman, a professional investor, and a proud Democrat. I think Mitt Romney and I share the same income bracket, although I guess we're never going to know,” according to a transcript of the speech.

“But the reason I'm here tonight is that Mitt Romney and I don't share the same vision for the future, especially when it comes to energy. You see, this election is a choice, a choice about whether to go backward or forward. And that choice is especially stark when it comes to energy,” Mr. Steyer said.

Describing himself as a “professional investor” was something of an understatement: Farallon Capital manages $19.8 billion in hedge fund assets, 54% of which is from institutional investors.

Mr. Steyer compared President Barack Obama's energy platform with that of Mr. Romney.

“Gov. Romney would do nothing to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and much to increase it. He would gut President Obama's investments in clean energy,” Mr. Steyer stated in his speech.

President Obama, on the other hand, has a “long-term plan for the future for an economy fueled by a safe, secure, sustainable energy supply. During the last several years, we've seen tremendous progress on new technologies that can make us energy independent and create thousands of jobs.”

“I say (this) as the head of an investment firm that has spent the last quarter-century crunching the numbers and making the tough calls. President Obama knows that advanced energy is America's future. And my bet, as a businessman, is that he's exactly right.”

Mr. Steyer was not immediately available for comment about his DNC presentation.

Mr. Steyer is passionate supporter of clean energy initiatives outside his work at Farallon. He is co-founder of Advanced Energy Economy Institute, an industry association representing the advanced energy industry, which has a mission to influence public policy and encourage innovation and business growth in the sector.

Last year, Mr. Steyer donated $5 million to successfully defeat California's Proposition 23, a ballot initiative that would have suspended the state's 2006 climate-change law.

Mr. Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, both Stanford University graduates, also funded two energy initiatives at their alma mater: The Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and The TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy.