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Episode 8 - A Wind Pioneer’s Big Gamble

Episode 8 April 22, 2020

Show Notes:

In this episode: how a Peace Corps volunteer built one of the most successful wind development companies in America and became one of the great risk-takers in energy.

Michael Skelly is the former president and co-founder of Clean Line Energy Partners, a company that attempted to build a cross-country power line to send wind electricity to the Southeast.

His nearly decade-long saga of Clean Line is filled with setbacks, frustrations and failures.

“I do believe in progress. It comes in fits and starts and so maybe we’re not successful but hopefully that the second mouse gets the cheese on these things,” says Skelly.

But his career is filled with plenty of big successes. Before co-founding Clean Line, Skelly was the chief development officer for Horizon Wind. And earlier in his career, he built a mile-long ski lift in the jungle for eco-tourism. He knows a thing or two about complicated infrastructure.

A book was recently written about his journey, called Superpower. It’s all about Skelly’s mission to build a 700-mile clean energy transmission superhighway — and what happened as he grappled with the political and market forces stacking up against him.

In our final episode of the season, we’ll talk about what Skelly learned from his experiences taking on big, daunting projects.


  • Superpower: One Man’s Quest to Transform America’s Energy
  • Axios: How America’s Biggest Renewable-Energy Power Line Failed

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