Advancing critical clean energy progress in Minnesota and the Midwest

Venkatesh (right) stands with friends next to the Snake River on the Idaho side of the Oregon-Idaho state border on a cross-country bike trip in 2012. Photo/Venkatesh Srinivas.

In the early years of his time working for Google, Fresh Energy Power Circle donor Venkatesh Srinivas lived and worked next door to Minnesota in Madison, Wisconsin. It was there that he developed a personal passion for clean energy issues.

With a growing interest in climate, Venkatesh began to see the energy choices being made in Madison and in Wisconsin play out before his very eyes. And as he watched the coal plant he passed every day on his work commute transition to burning fossil gas, he began to wonder how these energy decisions were made. This was the beginning of Venkatesh’s interest in the clean energy transition and the organizations fighting behind the scenes to end our reliance on fossil fuels. As he started digging into the data, Venkatesh learned how critical the Midwest was to widescale, deep decarbonization. This led him to Fresh Energy and our work shaping and driving energy policies to advance climate solutions.

Venkatesh eventually moved to the Pacific Northwest and now works for Google, but that didn’t make him stop caring about energy issues in the Midwest. Venkatesh gives to Fresh Energy because, in his words, “Despite a lot of talk about climate action at the federal level, I see states doing most of the interesting and important action. Minnesota is decarbonizing its economy in a cold climate region, thanks in large part to Fresh Energy’s work. I know my investment in this region of the country is impactful because Minnesota is a model for other states to learn from.”  

Venkatesh has been giving monthly to Fresh Energy as a Power Circle donor since 2017, and, over the years, he has worked to bring even more west-coasters to the fold by highlighting and promoting Fresh Energy every November during “Google Giving Week,” where employees join their colleagues in support of critical work being done in several areas of life, including climate and clean energy.

As an outdoor person, Venkatesh has a soft spot for Minnesota’s beautiful summers, but he knows that climate change brings danger. The wildfires in Northern Minnesota in 2021 hit him especially hard. “I don’t want to live through the sky being red in Minnesota ever again,” he says.  

To join Venkatesh in helping Fresh Energy shape clean energy progress in Minnesota and the Midwest with a Power Circle gift to Fresh Energy, please contact Meggie LaValley at