Dr. Tom Hansen has a vision for clean power. It’s big and bold. Dubbed the ‘Hansen Plan’ in a January 2008 Scientific American article, it would completely replace fossil fuels and nuclear power generation across the country. The idea is gaining fervent followers for its seeming simplicity, and equally passionate detractors for the cost and effort required to implement it.

At first blush Dr. Hansen seems an unlikely visionary. The mild, even humble manner, worn running shoes, plaid shirt and rumpled khakis belong to a man who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. For years he ran coal-fired power plants for Tucson Electric Power, now serving almost four hundred thousand customers in Arizona. Not having much to do because the plants “ran themselves,” he started researching how to transform TEP and the industry. In the early 90s he quit running the coal plants to focus on renewables, and is now TEP’s Vice President of Environmental Services, Conservation and Renewable Energy.

Last week I chatted with Dr. Hansen at TEP’s bustling Green Team office. We talked about the company’s goals, the Hansen Plan, state of the art energy storage, plug-in hybrids and the new Smart Grid demo projects, as well as his concerns about natural gas. He also reveals his pick for the best thin film solar panels . They may be less efficient but are becoming less expensive than the standard silicon-based ones, which he calls “crystallines”.

EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) and NRDC (National Resource Defense Council) recently published a study showing how the electric power industry could get back to 1990-level emissions… by 2030. You’ll hear what Dr. Hansen has to say about that.

Here’s our conversation (click the arrow).

On the run and want to listen later? Download the interview here.

Music again courtesy of Tesoro for Pistolero, and OpenCloud for Cash and Deviate