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Board Member Ralph Cavanagh Commemorates Life and Legacy of BPC’s First Board Chair John Rowe

Washington, DC – The following is a statement from Ralph Cavanagh, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s longest-serving board member, on the passing of BPC’s first Board Chair John Rowe:  

John Rowe will be remembered as a visionary who was beloved across the ideological spectrum, a founder of BPC, and one of the most important reasons why America’s electricity sector has outperformed expectations in its ongoing clean energy transition.  

“His sense of humor was legendary and irresistible if somewhat eclectic (who else would compare an adversary’s argument to ‘the equivalent of a Brazilian dowager’s complaint about the fashion dominance of Paris?’). He was equally at home in an inner-city high school classroom as he was in a White House summit meeting. His interests ranged from archeology to atmospheric chemistry to anything that could advance the civic life of his beloved Chicago.  

 “As a utility leader in New England and then at Exelon and nationally, John shifted the industry’s direction toward energy efficiency and decarbonization at just the right time, while teaching his sometimes environmental adversaries an invaluable lesson about prematurely dismissing hometown utilities as potential clean energy partners. As inaugural co-chair of the National Commission on Energy Policy, BPC’s predecessor, he was building bridges toward federal climate policy solutions two full decades before the legislative advances that have marked the first half of the Biden administration. 

“Among the admirers of John Rowe is his and BPC’s dear friend Sue Tierney, who wrote ‘What an extraordinary human being: so brilliant, so funny, so sharp, so lovely, so dignified, so endearing.’ We miss him already, but his legacy will endure. He would remind all in that legion of admirers that his work is unfinished, and we need now to honor his memory by redoubling our efforts.”