Introduced by Venture Beat's Matt Marshall as "The best known investor in Web 1.0, involved in the founding of Amazon, Netscape, and Google," John Doerr and his firm, Kleiner Perkins, have raised a billion dollars to be channeled into greentech. 

"Greentech could be the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century," said Doerr.

Speaking at Venture Beat's inaugural Smart Grid event in San Mateo Calif., he offered his usual thoughts on greentech governent spending, the daughter Mary story ("Your generation created this problem you better fix it.") but he did add some interesting quotes:

  • "The internet is a $1 trillion economy. Compare that with the energy business, a $6 trillion dollar economy."
  • "The super grid is going to be the last great network we buid in our lifetimes."
  • "Google took about $25 million to get to IPO," he said. Doerr compared that to Bloom Energy which has taken $350 million. "There is so much capital required to grow a great green company."  Bloom, which "has substantial revenues and orders required ten times as much capital – and we are seven years into Bloom. I wager nine years to a successful public offering."
  • "Advice to investors: Don't count on additional government incentives."
  • "In green in particular we have woefully underinvested."
  • "My lesson about policy is not to argue about your self interest.  Make an argument that's bigger and about jobs or competitiveness – and you're going to change a few minds."
  • "Energy is the the sum of all lobbyists."
  • "If we had foreseen the crash, we might not have invested in green."
  • He had three suggestions for carbon: "Put a price on carbon, put a price on carbon, put a price on carbon. It will be a signal to have private investors move their capital to low carbon energy."

Kleiner Perkins' cleantech investments include Bloom Energy (Fuel Cells), MiaSolé (CIGS PV), Solexel (3D Silicon Cell PV), Alta Devices (Stealth PV), Ausra (Solar Thermal), Altarock (Geothermal), Fisker Automotive (EVs) and several others.  Their smart grid investments include Silver Spring Networks and Hara Software.

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Here's an interesting thing about VC investment in smart grid: Investors talk about it a lot but the numbers are low. It's a bit surprising to see the small proportion of smart grid deals relative to VC in greentech as a whole:

So are VCs talking and not diving in? Are they looking to see the outcome of Silver Spring Networks' utility roll-out? Are we only in early days? 

Or will these initial forays into Advanced Meter Infrastructure and Home Energy Networks give way to a bigger and steadier wave of other smart grid technologies like Vehicle to Grid, EV charging stations, data management and analytics, network optimization tools, and independent energy storage operators?

The next few quarters will tell. Smart people in Greentech Media's smart grid practice see a new smart grid innovation and investment wave about to break.