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Wednesday, August 17 at 8 p.m. – Planet Forward: Energy Innovation

(Rochester, NY) – As part of WXXI's week-long programming initiative in support of Rochester's first Greentopia Festival, which will be held in September 2011, WXXI presents Planet Forward: Energy Innovation, Wednesday, August 17 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11).

A field of hundreds is pared down to a few finalists, panelists evaluate their potential for success, and the audience votes for a winner via text messaging. Sound familiar? Actually, it’s a description of Planet Forward, a web and television-based project that’s looking for the next great idea in energy innovation. Planet Forward: Energy Innovation profiles the seven finalists chosen from hundreds of ideas submitted online to planetforward.org. Taped in front of an audience at The George Washington University, this second edition of Planet Forward harnesses the power of the online community to uncover innovative, real-world solutions to global energy and climate challenges.

“Planet Forward gives engaged citizens, entrepreneurs, scientists and students the opportunity to share their energy solutions, and connect those innovative ideas with leaders in the energy field,” said Frank Sesno, Planet Forward’s host and creator. “These ideas have the power to change the nation’s energy future.”

A panel of experts, including Thomas Connelly, Jr., executive vice president and chief innovation officer for DuPont, Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan and Senior Advisor to Pew Charitable Trusts' Clean Energy Program , and Andrew Revkin, who writes the Dot Earth blog for the New York Times, provide feedback on the innovator’s ideas based on originality, sustainability, and commercial viability.

The seven finalists competing for the title of the Planet Forward “Innovator of the Year” includes :

  • Kevin Surace, CEO of Serious Materials, led the effort to retrofit the iconic Empire State Building with more energy efficient windows.

  • Jamie Hestekin, along with a team of students and scientists at the University of Arkansas, are converting algae into fuel.

  • Michael Mendez, founder of Sapphire Energy, is turning algae into Green Crude that can be refined into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

  • Danny Kennedy, CEO of Sungevity, is partnering with financial institutions to reduce the cost of going solar to a zero-down monthly lease.
  • Linda-Rose Myers, president of EcoTech Fuels, aims to convert trash, plastics, and tires into advanced, high performance synthetic fuel.

  • Al Dahlberg is building coalitions to create infrastructure for electric vehicles.

  • Gary Dirks is the director of Arizona State University’s LightWorks project which uses the principle of solar power to design synthetic systems.

Planet Forward is a co-production of the Center for Innovative Media at The George Washington University, and Maryland Public Television in association with Nebraska Educational Telecommunications.  Planet Forward’s innovators are also featured monthly on PBS’ Nightly Business Report.

Rochester's Greentopia Festival is a two-day interactive fest that celebrates the green movement that is sweeping the globe, and will showcase what the region is doing – and envision a greener region of the future. The festival will be held September 17 and 18, 2011 in High Falls. For a list of all "green" programs airing on WXXI-TV/HD and AM 1370, visit: WXXI.org/gogreen

Photo Caption: Emmy Award-winning CNN veteran Frank Sesno hosts this innovative, viewer-driven program that debuts on the Web and culminates in a primetime PBS special a week before Earth Day. The broadcast is driven by people's ideas about the nation's energy future.



WXXI is the essential, life-long educational media resource for the Greater Rochester area. WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues. Log on to wxxi.org for more information about our services and programs.