Adiverse group of renewable energy companies and industry associationscame together on Feb. 4 in Washington, D.C. to press the case for astrong national renewable electricity standard, or RES. We all knowthat utilizing our abundant domestic renewable energy sources providesimportant environmental and energy security benefits, but this groupwas there to highlight the jobs benefit of greater renewablesdeployment.
The press event was sponsored by the RES Alliance for Jobs,a coalition of businesses and organizations that support Congressionalenactment of a strong federal RES. The group was touting a report– conducted by Navigant Consulting, Inc. – showing that a national RESwill support an additional 274,000 renewable energy jobs over ano-national policy option and that these jobs will occur broadly acrossthe nation.
While 29 states and the District of Columbiahave adopted renewable portfolio standards (although the targets varywidely) and thus are already reaping jobs benefits, large swaths of theU.S. have not acted. The study found that without stronger near-termtargets, some renewable energy industries will stagnate or even decline.
A central message from the group was that long-term comprehensivepolicy creates the demand needed to retain and grow our domesticrenewables industries and manufacturing and that the lack of policyrisks losing these industries.
Don Furman, senior vice president at Iberdrola Renewables noted that“America owned the wind industry” 20 years ago but that we have “givenit away” because of the lack of policy. He added that a key appeal of aRES is that it is a market-based policy that allows states and regionsto respond with the most advantageous mix of resources.
Applied Materials executive Charlie Gay emphasized the need for“long-term, consistent policy” to build domestic markets that willallow industry to create the scale of manufacturing that leads to“predictability of cost reduction.”
The RES Alliance report adds to the growing list of studies showingthat without supportive policies, the U.S. will be left behind by othercountries that are prepared to outspend us to win the “clean energyrace.” The risk of inaction is that we will add a new dependence onrenewable energy equipment imports to our current dependence on foreignoil.