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Published on November 5th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan

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Take Action: Tell Congress to Continue Critical Clean Energy Policies

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November 5th, 2011 by Zachary Shahan
 
Solar power, wind power, and even geothermal power have boomed in recent years in the U.S., making the country a leader in these fields. They’ve partly boomed due to dropping costs, more efficient technologies, and more energy-conscious people and businesses. However, a huge part of their growth has been due to a couple of government policies — the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

These are set to expire, unfortunately, but a couple of Congressmen, Representative Reichert (R-WA-08) and Representative Blumenauer (D-OR-03), introduced a bill to extend the renewable energy production tax credit on November 2. You can encourage your Representative to support this bill in seconds on this wind power action page. Please do so now!

clean energy action congress

Energy Subsidies Should be More Fair

Now, if you try to make the argument that clean energy shouldn’t be living on subsidies, fine, but that would mean that fossil fuels and nuclear power shouldn’t be living on subsidies either (they get trillions of dollars in subsidies every decade and don’t have to worry about those subsidies expiring like the clean energy industry does). Also, I think it’s important to note that subsidies are often used to get a new or young industry that provides important societal benefits going, and fossil fuel and nuclear industries received a ton more subsidies in their early development than wind and solar. Who’s is getting the short end of the stick when it comes to government subsidies?

A coalition of 24 governors from both the Republican and Democratic party and from each region of the country have gotten behind an extension of the PTC and ITC. I’m sure that number will grow. But Congress has to hear your voice, as well. (The governors are actually calling for much more than this, if you’re interested in reading more about their call to action.)

Now, if you think these subsidies aren’t doing anything, don’t worry, I’ve got an answer for that, too.

clean energy investment needed take action

Clean Energy Subsidies are Creating Jobs, Making the U.S. a Clean Energy Leader

Compared to the previous year, when the PTC has expired and not been immediately renewed, wind energy installations have fallen up to 93% compared to the previous year! The PTC lowers the cost of wind by 90%. Wind power has grown a ton in the U.S. in the last few years and we now have the second-most installed wind power in the world (only behind China — note the image above). Last year, we also had the second-most newly installed wind power (only behind China). We have enough wind power installed to power approximately 10 million homes now! And we have 400 U.S. manufacturing facilities for wind across the U.S. creating thousands of jobs. I could go on and on, but I hope you get the point.

The solar energy situation is similar:

  1. The U.S. solar industry now employs over 100,000 people (more than the coal industry).
  2. The U.S. solar industry is the fastest-growing industry in the country (creating jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy).
  3. There are over 5,000 solar companies across the U.S., some in every state.
  4. Solar PV installations have grown 69% over the last year (40 times faster than the U.S. economy as a whole).
  5. The U.S. solar energy industry is a net exporter, by $2 billion (and is even a net exporter to China).

I could go on and on, but the important point today is that these federal policies are important to solar continued rapid growth. Solar Energy Industry Association president Rhone Resch said last month: “an extension of the 1603 program even for just one year will support 37,000 additional jobs and deploy 2,000 additional megawatts of solar capacity. Let me repeat that – 37,000 new jobs next year.”

Clean energy is widely supported by the public, but without pressure on our Congress people, I think you and I both now that most of them will pay more attention to the lobbyists and their political donors (largely the big, rich fossil fuel industry).

So, take action today!

(More on the governors’ call to clean energy action here.)

Photo Credits: UOPowerShift09Third Way

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • Dave Roberts

    New research indicates 80% of republican voters favor solar energy, as well as 90%of democrats, so what’s with those hibernating Congress folks in D.C.? Thanks for the support Zach,
    Dave Roberts — http://www.marketinggreenpower.com

    • Anonymous

      Might it be fossil fuel industry dollars?

      Just a thought….

    • Anonymous

      Good point & question. I’ve been wanting to tease out the differences between Republican voters and politicians more for awhile — there is sometimes a huge difference. In the end, I think it does largely come down to Bob’s point.

  • Pingback: NY Times Falls on its Face Reporting on NRG Solar Project | CleanTechnica

  • Anonymous

    I’d say that many of the wind turbine/towers are quite attractive. Sure, in most cases they do not improve on the nature that was already there, but in order to get off fossil fuels without returning to caves we are going to have to break some landscape eggs. To not erect the turbines will lead to more mountain top removal, open pit mines, more dead forests from polar-moving pests and diseases, etc.

    Solar panels are beginning to move from their original form of utilitarian rectangles to solar shingles and building-integrated solar.

    And here are the finalists in a recent contest that was set up to generate new and more attractive power transmission towers.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/8762695/In-pictures-Pylon-Design-Competition.html?image=2

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