United States

United States

Wind power executive Michael Skelly running for office

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Come November, the wind industry could be sending another one of its own to Washington, if Horizon Energy's Michael Skelly can unseat the incumbent in Texas's 7th Congressional District -- one of the wealthiest voting precincts in the nation and an electorate that has sent only Republicans to the US Congress since the 1960s. Skelly, a Democrat, needs to raise enough money to duel John Culberson, who first won the job in 2001 and spent $3 million in winning re-election in 2006. "Last time around, the guy I'm running against got 59% of the vote running against a schoolteacher who spent just over $100,000," Skelly says. "So I need to take the guy from 59 to 50 minus one." Skelly believes the political winds are right. "We're going to be making a lot of big energy decisions in this country in the next ten to twenty years," he says. "It's important to have people involved in those discussions who understand energy. Not just renewable energy, but all types of energy." Skelly, 46, joined Horizon in 1999 when it was International Wind. The Zilkha family bought and renamed the company Zilkha Renewable Energy in 2000 before Goldman Sachs took over in 2005 and renamed it Horizon. Last July, Portuguese Utility Energias de Portugal bought Horizon for more than $2 billion. Born in England before moving to the US as a child, Skelly earned a graduate degree from Harvard Business School and served with the Peace Corps in Costa Rica. Skelly is not the first wind power executive to run for office. The trail was blazed in 2006 when Richard Pombo, a Republican incumbent in California's 11th District, was defeated by the Democratic challenger, former wind power executive Jerry McNerney.

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