Billionaire Clean Energy Advocate Visits N.H., Doesn't Reveal 2016 Picks

Jul 10, 2015

Tom Steyer (left) talks with Dan Conner, the youngest of several generations of Conners that have run the bottling company in Newfields.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

  Tom Steyer, the billionaire who poured more than $70 million into an effort to make climate change a top issue in the 2014 elections, was back in the Granite State Friday.

He toured Conner Bottling Works in Newfields, a soda-maker which covered its roof in solar panels.

“Why come all the way from California to New Hampshire?” he said in response to a reporter’s question during a round-table, which elicited chuckles from the crowd.

“Other than the beautiful day, the great business and the charming people, is that your question?” he joked.

Here’s why -- Steyer’s organization, NextGen Climate has had 12 staff on the ground since April, going door to door trying to get voters interested in climate change. While he’s mum on the candidates he’ll support this time around, one thing’s clear: they’ll have to be pro clean energy.

“There are subsidies and support for the outdated models that support the fossil fuel industry and put clean tech at a disadvantage. The limiting factor at this point isn’t technology, its politics,” said Steyer, who used the speech to prod businesses to push their representatives to take more progressive positions on energy issues.

Currently, NextGen Climate is active in Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida, but Steyer says he’d be shocked if they didn’t expand beyond those three.

**Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the name of the town that Conner Bottling Works is in. It is Newfields, not Newington**

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