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BY INVENERG Y
S TORAGE OPERATED
BY INVENERG Y
from a manmade cooling lake three miles square, is an aging
nuclear plant, owned by Exelon.
When nukes were new, they were the benefciaries of a
federal energy policy. Likewise, a decade or so later wind and
solar got the government’s blessing, mostly in the form of
generous tax credits. But those incentives are now being
phased out. If renewables, currently responsible for 15 percent
of our electricity supply, are ever going to supplant nukes
( 20 percent), not to mention fossil fuels ( 65 percent), it won’t
be because our survival depends on it, though that may be
true. They’ll have to win on old-fashioned metrics such as
reliability and price. Polsky is betting they can.
He was the frst in his family to go to college, graduating
from Kiev Polytechnic in 1974 with an advanced degree in
mechanical engineering. Opportunities remained limited,
though, because of his religion. Two years later, he applied
for refugee status as a persecuted Jew—“You’re basically not
welcome there,” Polsky explains, seemingly without rancor,
in an interview at Invenergy headquarters in Chicago’s north
Loop. The ofces are a cross between an art gallery (one with
lots of pictures of turbines, smokestacks, and boilers) and
a technology startup; everywhere are young people who look
too cool to work at a power company. Polsky doesn’t under-
stand why letting employees dress for work in jeans is a
beneft, but he allows it. In the reception area, there’s a display
that keeps a running tally of Invenergy’s lifetime CO2 savings,
expressed as an equivalent number of cars of the road:
10,998,537 when I arrive, 703 more by the time I leave.
Not many people can say that energy was their destiny.
Even Polsky. “Nobody is born to be a power plant engineer,
like you’re born to be an artist or a composer,” he says. “But
when I started studying it, I liked it.” Enthralled might be a
The company builds and
operates solar, wind, and natural
gas plants—and builds for
utility customers as well.