TexasIsHot – Energy Efficiency


Dec 07 2016

Renewable Energy Will Always Be A Top Priority

by david in Blog with 0 Comments


If you’re an American environmentalist, there’s a lot to be sober about these days. The crippling defeat of progressive politics in the November elections swept Republicans into Congress that could help Trump fulfill his campaign promises to dismantle environmental policies established under the Obama administration, revive a dying U.S. coal industry and pull out of the 193-country Paris accord aimed at coordinating a reduction in global greenhouse gases.

The markets have reacted accordingly. Since the Republican victory in the Nov. 8 elections, investors have been dumping shares in renewable-energy companies like Vesta Wind Systems, the world’s top maker of wind turbines, whose stock has plunged nearly 19 percent since the election, while plying cash into mining interests like Glencore, one of the world’s largest coal producers, whose shares have jumped almost 14 percent in the same period of time. The markets are predicting Trump, who walked back his claim that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese after the election, will nevertheless be a great booster of oil and gas interests while capping progress the country has made in developing fossil-fuel alternatives.

Good luck with that, say renewable energy analysts, who point to the immense and irreversible progress that’s been made in the U.S. over the past decade toward much wider adoption of those alternatives. What was once a costly fringe part of the country’s energy sector is now mainstream as companies and state development officials have acknowledged that energy conservation and renewable sources are cost-effective job creators, not just a costly do-good big government effort.

“Even with a lack of continued implementation of the Clean Power Plan under the next administration, conversations at the state level have already started on this issue, and they’re considering new emerging technologies like power storage and distributed energy resources,” Jeffrey Cramer, a partner at 38 North Solutions, a clean energy public policy consulting firm, told Salon.

The Clean Power Plan is an Obama administration initiative to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by installing carbon capture technology that greatly reduces harmful emissions but raises the cost of electricity generated by coal. Trump has pledged to eliminate it.

“There’s really not much out there from a federal policy perspective that could curtail the continued growth of the clean energy industry,” Cramer added.

And this is not just happening in liberal states like California and Massachusetts, Cramer said. Conservative bastions like North Carolina, Arizona and Texas are embracing wind power, and conservative groups are becoming more vocal about the need for Republicans to do something to counter the GOP’s reputation as the political party that’s an enemy of green-energy development. A Pew Research Center poll in October found overwhelming support for alternative energy infrastructure development, with 83 percent of conservative Republicans favoring solar installations, and 75 percent backing wind farms. Liberal Democrats favored both by more than 90 percent.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 2.5 million people are employed in clean energy, led by robust growth in solar, which has seen a 20 percent jump in employment since 2012. Solar companies now employ about 300,000 people, more than the number of people working in oil, gas and coal extraction. Part of the reason for that is because hiring the oil and gas sector has seen a huge drop since the global oil glut sent prices plunging over the past two years, but regardless, these hiring numbers are significant.

“If the Trump administration does nothing, and leaves policy alone, they wouldn’t have to do anything to take credit for continued growth in the sector,” said Cramer.

That’s because the costs of developing more energy efficient power sources are falling. Coal costs $65 per megawatt hour (MWh) from a traditional coal power plant, and $140 per MWh from a power plant with carbon capture technology. But solar-derived electricity now costs about $79 per MWh compared to $125 per MWh in 2010, according to the Financial Times. Wind energy is by far the least expensive, costing $56 per MWh, or $34 per MWh with government subsidies.

“We’re in a very different place than where we were eight years ago,” John Rogers, a senior analyst in the climate and energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Salon. “Candidate Trump was clear about the need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. If he’s serious about infrastructure upgrades, if he’s serious about creating jobs and economic development here in the U.S., the idea of investing in a modern, reliable 21st century electricity grid is something that puts checks in all of those boxes.”

Rogers points to a growing embrace of renewables in corporate America and among states seeking greater efficiencies and modern energy infrastructure.

This week, Google-owner Alphabet said by the end of next year it would derive all of Google’s global power needs from renewable energy sources, including the immense load required to keep its global network of power-hungry data centers purring.

“Over the last six years, the cost of wind and solar came down 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option,” the company said in its environmental report.

Indeed, the cost effectiveness of renewable energy will make it much harder for any global-warming denying lawmakers backed by energy and transportation industries to reverse progress that’s been made over the past decade.

President-elect Trump might understand this, regardless of his campaign rhetoric backing the coal industry. On Monday, the president-elect met with former Vice President Al Gore, a meeting Gore told reporters had been “lengthy and very productive.” And in an interview at The New York Times on Nov. 22, Trump said he would keep an open mind about sustainable energy policy.

It’s possible that as a Republican, he’s looked at the numbers and realizes that promoting renewable energy is no longer just an ethical issue for environmentalists to embrace, but rather a cost-effective measure that should be part of his proposed infrastructure spending plans. While environmentalists have plenty to be alarmed about when it comes to stripping away progressive environmental standards, when it comes renewable and more efficient energy sources, it appears that the U.S. is finally on track toward joining the rest of the modern world in embracing a greener mindset.

Angelo Young

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  • "In order to meet our goals, we need programs like the TexasIsHot campaign to help change the way people think about energy." - State Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), Chairman of Senate Natural Resources Committee
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  • "If every Texas household adopted just a few of the dozens of energy efficiency strategies referenced on TexasIsHot.org, our air would be cleaner, our limited supply of natural resources would be better protected, and our wallets would be heavier..." Kip Averitt (R-Waco), Former State Senator and Chairman of Senate Committee on Natural Resources
  • ”The TexasIsHot campaign targets an important piece of the clean energy effort -- educating Texans on the way we use electricity and quantifying the financial and environmental costs associated with our use. By just reducing the amount of electricity we use and waste, TexasIsHot.org can show people how to save money..." State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin)
  • "Fluctuating energy costs are really hurting Texas families and businesses, but by just making a few easy changes, Texans can cut down on energy waste. TexasIsHot.org is a tremendous resource which arms consumers with the information they need to save themselves money by becoming more energy efficient, and help our environment." State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston)
  • "Texas is the third fastest growing state in the nation with a net growth of 1,000 people each and every day. This brings many challenges including providing clean and affordable electricity. That is why I'm excited about TexasIsHot.org. This website is an instructional resource that will help Texans save on their energy bills at home and in the workplace..." State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford)
  • "Now, more than ever, Texans need to work together to conserve energy and to make more efficient use of the energy we consume. The TexasIsHot.org website is an extraordinary resource for people who want to save money and help conserve our precious natural resources..." State Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas)
  • "By partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition we can extend our effort’s reach, leverage our resources, and ensure that Austin’s energy grid continues to be a test-bed for technologies, products, and services that will transform our state’s energy system." Brewster McCracken, Executive Director, Pecan Street Project
  • "The City of Houston is working harder than ever to make Houston green and energy efficient, but we need the help of every citizen. I would encourage everyone to take a moment to explore the TexasIsHot website to learn what we can all do to make Houston, and the rest of Texas, the green and energy efficient example for the rest of the nation." Mayor Annise Parker, Houston
  • "Energy efficiency is one of our top priorities. Partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition will help us educate citizens and local businesses about energy-efficient practices in order to meet our goal of reducing residential and commercial electric use." Gavin Dillingham, Chief of Sustainable Growth – General Services Department, for the City of Houston
  • "We are excited about the new partnership that the City of Corpus Christi has entered into with the TexasIsHot Coalition. TexasIsHot.org provides a platform to educate policy makers, city employees and citizens on how to save money and help the environment by conserving energy..." Mayor Joe Adame, Corpus Christi
  • "I am excited that the City of Corpus Christi has joined the TexasIsHot Coalition and look forward to working with them to help Texans become smarter energy users. Energy efficiency is by far the best way for people to reduce their bills and help the environment, but we need education and outreach to make this happen." State Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Jr (D-Corpus Christi)
  • "Because of its fast growth and hot summers, Texas has to get smarter about energy conservation. I applaud the efforts of Corpus Christi and TexasIsHot to help businesses and residents reap the benefits of increased efficiency." Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
  • "Energy efficiency is the cleanest, quickest and cheapest way to get smart about energy use, saving both money and the environment. I applaud the TexasIsHot Coalition in their effort to educate Texans about the benefits of energy efficiency..." Luke Metzger, Director, Environment Texas
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