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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Sunday, April 03, 2011

    Surge in Green Energy Support and Investment

    2010 saw a surge in green energy investment as well as solar energy finally reaching parity with older energy production in some areas. Further, despite right wing Republican/teabagger opposition, California is finally starting to lead the way in linking clean energy and jobs.

    First, from the Union of Concerned Scientists:

    Broad and Bipartisan Support for Clean Energy and Job Creation

    In a bold move to bolster one of the few bright spots in California’s economy and set a precedent for strong renewable electricity standards nationwide, the California Legislature today approved a bill that would require utilities in the state to obtain at least 33 percent of their electricity from clean, renewable sources, such as the wind and sun, by 2020. Promoted by the governor and legislative leaders in both houses as part of a green jobs stimulus package, the bill would create the most aggressive renewable energy requirement in the country and position California as a national leader in clean energy investments.

    “Today’s vote is not just a victory for California’s economy and environment, but for the entire nation,” said Laura Wisland, an energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the leading national nonprofit organization providing economic, technical and policy analysis of renewable electricity standards. “Transitioning toward more clean, renewable electricity sources means cleaner air, healthier communities, and a stronger green economy.”

    Introduced by State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), the bill (SBX1 2) garnered the backing of a broad range of electric utilities, ratepayer groups, environmental organizations and renewable energy businesses. UCS advised the California bill authors, and played a lead role to build support for the bill as it made its way through the Legislature. UCS also has been involved in coalition efforts to enact clean energy standards in other states and at the federal level...

    Dan Kalb, UCS’s California policy manager, said the new standard would be a boon for the state economy. “A strong 33 percent renewables standard in statute would give renewable energy developers the market the certainty they need to raise money to build their projects in California,” he said. “With the governor’s signature, this bill will create new clean energy jobs, strengthen our economy, and reduce harmful heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming.”

    Wisland said that the federal government should follow California’s lead. “Once again, California has demonstrated national leadership in advancing clean energy,” she said. “Now it’s Congress’s turn to act.” Such a move by federal legislators has widespread public support, she added. A February Gallup poll found that 83 percent of Americans favor Congress passing a bill that would provide incentives for renewable energy.

    This should have happened YEARS ago. Had more states taken these actions 5 years ago, job growth in America would have surged. Most Democrats support this kind of job-creating, clean, green energy. Most Republican politicians don't, favoring old technology that creates jobs in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela rather than in America.

    But slowly, despite right wing teabagger opposition to new technology, the tide is slowly turning. Investment in green energy surged in 2010. From BBC News:

    Global investment in clean energy projects saw a big rise last year and is poised for further strong growth, a report suggests.

    Investment topped $243bn (£152bn) in 2010, a rise of 30% on the $186bn spent a year earlier, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said.

    It added that more clean energy sources could now compete with fossil fuels.

    Higher energy prices were also likely to increase demand for clean energy, WEF said...

    "Today, geothermal, biomass and wind projects can compete with and surpass their fossil-based rivals in increasingly significant energy markets," the report said.

    Solar power generation, it added, had already reached parity with retail electricity prices in some parts of the world, "and will undoubtedly to so elsewhere soon".

    As I have said before, even in the worst of the Bush Recession, I was able to make money investing in some solar and wind energy companies. The industry still can be variable in its success rate, similar to the computer boom or biotechnology at their early phases. But there is a great deal of growth potential in clean energy.

    And people need to keep in mind old energy technology like oil, coal and nuclear all require massive government subsidies to keep prices low. If those subsidies were ended, or green energy given more subsidies (rather than being cut by right wing Republicans) the parity would be even better. Looking at nuclear subsidies alone, the taxpayer contribution is huge. From Union of Concerned Scientists again:

    Government subsidies to the nuclear power industry over the past fifty years have been so large in proportion to the value of the energy produced that in some cases it would have cost taxpayers less to simply buy kilowatts on the open market and give them away, according to a February 2011 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

    The report, Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable without Subsidies, looks at the economic impacts and policy implications of subsidies to the nuclear power industry—past, present, and proposed.

    This is something the nuclear industry hides when they tell us how cheap nuke energy is. It is cheap because almost all levels of the industry, from construction to waste disposal, is taxpayer subsidized. And the cost of coal isn't any better when all factors are taken into account.

    To learn more about clean energy options for your personal energy bill (usually costs a few pennies more per KwH) click here.

    To see what green pricing options are available in your area, visit the Department of Energy's Green Power Network - Green Pricing page. You can be part of the solution.



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