Solar panels in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Chris Clark/AP)

Steyer, a billionaire and major Democratic donor, is highly regarded by the White House, snagging a coveted spot at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Steyer wrote a multimillion-dollar check and teamed with former secretary of state George Shultz to help defeat a referendum that would have rolled back California’s ambitious renewable energy legislation. And he donated millions to create sustainable energy and a finance center at Stanford University, and $25 million to launch an energy sciences institute at Yale.

He’s been on a fairly long list of folks who’ve been mentioned since the election for the job: former Clinton White House chief of staff and Obama 2008 transition head John Podesta, founder and chairman of the Center for American Progress; former Colorado governor Bill Ritter, who runs the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University; former North Dakota senator Byron Dorgan, who was on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is co-author of Blowout, an energy eco-thriller; Susan Tierney, who was co-head of the 2008 Obama transition team for energy and was assistant secretary of Energy for policy in the Clinton administration; and Steve Westly, a venture capitalist focusing on renewable energy technology firms, former top California state official and major Obama fundraiser.

While Steyer, who’s also been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate, is under consideration, he’s also considered a man of action. That would, of course, be a tough fit in this town, where budget constraints, problems on the Hill, the administration’s own seeming diffidence and getting the smallest thing done can be like a double root canal.

On the other hand, he’s stepping down from his hedge fund job in two weeks, so he’ll be looking for work, trying to feed the family ...