Why president Trump can’t squash the innovating, job creating, money saving clean energy industry

By Nancy Pfund
November 18, 2016

Like many oth­ers, pro­po­nents of clean ener­gy were thrown into a state of shock after the US elec­tion results. Dur­ing the cam­paign, now Pres­i­dent-elect Trump dis­missed cli­mate change as a Chi­nese hoax and threat­ened an abrupt shift in US ener­gy policy.

Despite this shak­en polit­i­cal cli­mate, there are many rea­sons to remain opti­mistic about the prospects for clean ener­gy in the Unit­ed States. Specif­i­cal­ly, renew­able ener­gy is broad­ly pop­u­lar, makes sense finan­cial­ly, and is large­ly state-regulated.

Out­side of Wash­ing­ton, there is over­whelm­ing sup­port for renew­able ener­gy. Gallup found that 79% of Amer­i­cans would like to see more empha­sis on domes­tic solar ener­gy pro­duc­tion and they are increas­ing­ly vot­ing with their roofs: more than one mil­lion US homes now have solar pan­els installed. Red states like South Dako­ta and Ida­ho are on the fore­front of renew­able ener­gy adop­tion along­side blue states like Cal­i­for­nia and Mass­a­chu­setts. Clean ener­gy is not a par­ti­san issue—it’s a tech­nol­o­gy that can pro­vide sol­id mid­dle class jobs and ener­gy sav­ings for all.

Renew­ables energy’s pop­u­lar­i­ty is sim­i­lar­ly broad among cor­po­ra­tions. Over 80 major com­pa­nies have com­mit­ted to the goal of 100% renew­able ener­gy includ­ing Ikea, Apple, Google, Bank of Amer­i­ca, Coca Cola, Nike, P&G, Wal­mart, and many more. Whole Foods achieved the feat back in 2006. Increas­ing­ly cor­po­ra­tions are break­ing from tra­di­tion­al mod­els and pro­duc­ing and buy­ing renew­able ener­gy direct­ly to meet their goals. For exam­ple, ear­li­er this year three of Nevada’s largest casinos—MGM Resorts, Wynn, and the Las Vegas Sands—announced plans to leave the state’s util­i­ty to pro­cure more renew­able ener­gy on the open market.
A key dri­ver to coun­try-wide adop­tion of renew­able ener­gy by both con­sumers and cor­po­ra­tions is eco­nom­ics. Regard­less of one’s views of the envi­ron­ment, renew­able ener­gy, par­tic­u­lar­ly when com­bined with stor­age, is increas­ing­ly the right finan­cial deci­sion. The cost of pro­duc­ing solar ener­gy, for instance, has fall­en rapid­ly and is now 70% less expen­sive than it was a decade ago. Fur­ther, renew­able ener­gy pro­vides more price sta­bil­i­ty than con­ven­tion­al fos­sil fuels, which may be fur­ther exac­er­bat­ed if we enter an era of trade wars.

Final­ly, state and local gov­ern­ments play a much larg­er role in the man­age­ment of the ener­gy indus­try than the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. State util­i­ty com­mis­sions lead util­i­ty reg­u­la­tion and are guid­ed by state leg­is­la­tures and gov­er­nors in set­ting goals, incen­tives, and pol­i­cy guide­lines. State-lev­el bal­lot ini­tia­tives have fur­ther demon­strat­ed broad con­sumer sup­port for renew­able poli­cies. This week Flori­da vot­ers defeat­ed a util­i­ty-sup­port­ed mea­sure to restrict solar in the state and Neva­da vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly to end NV Energy’s legal monop­oly and cre­ate a path for more clean, cost-effec­tive ener­gy in the state.

To read the full arti­cle, vis­it Quartz.