A new report published this month
highlights the rapid growth in renewable energy throughout the U.S. as the country moves toward a clean energy
economy. The 2018
Sustainable Energy in America Factbook was produced by the Business Council for
Sustainable Energy (BCSE) by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and it’s chock full
of good news for renewable energy, the U.S. economy, and our low-carbon future.
The report found that renewable energy
capacity in the U.S. soared to a record-high in 2017 while emissions from the
electricity generation shrank to their lowest levels in over 25 years. And
cleaner energy isn’t just reducing emissions — it’s also investing
billions in the economy and helping keep electricity prices low, too!
The wind industry delivered great results
for the U.S. economy last year. Wind added over 7 GW of new capacity in 2017,
bringing the total U.S. wind capacity up to 89.1 GW according to the American Wind Energy Association. Last year’s new wind farms
represent $11 billion in new private investment. That’s a huge benefit to rural America, which hosts 99 percent of wind farms and reap wind’s
benefits through a new source of tax revenue, landowner lease payments for
farmers and ranchers, and funding for community projects. And that’s not the
only benefit that wind energy is delivering. Today, the wind industry employs
over 100,000 Americans with steady, family-supporting jobs
across the nation.
The 2018 Factbook also points out that corporate Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for
wind projects have surged as wind has become one of the most affordable options for new electricity generation.
Businesses aren’t just investing in clean energy to meet
sustainability goals, however, they’re doing it to increase their bottom line.
key concept for business is that sustainability means doing more with less —
less material, less cost, less pollution, less waste, and lots of other
‘lesses,’” says John Atkins, President of Terra Shares, an
organization that helps businesses invest in low-cost, clean energy. “Businesses
invest every day in measures to reduce their cost; it’s what they must do to
remain competitive.” Investing in renewables doesn’t only provide businesses
with cleaner energy — it reduces their monthly electric bills, which allows the
business to reinvest those savings in itself to become stronger and more
the only ones taking advantage of wind’s low cost — electric utilities are also
investing in wind energy to save their ratepayers money. Look no further than
Minnesota, where Xcel Energy recently announced a target of 60% renewable
energy by 2030. Ben Fowke, president and CEO of Xcel Energy, recently
stated that wind power is
the cheapest source of electricity available today and will allow Xcel to keep
electric bill increases at or below the consumer price index.
Clearly, wind power has been good for the
U.S. economy and for ratepayers, and solar energy isn’t
As solar installations continue to grow —
7.1 GW of utility-scale solar projects were installed last year — the price of solar has also begun to fall. In fact,
module prices have decreased 92% over the past decade as the solar industry
boom has begun. That’s good news for the 250,000 Americans that work in the solar industry at wages
above the national average. The solar industry has been a powerhouse for
economic development; there are now over 9,000 solar companies in the U.S. which are spread across every
U.S. state. Together, wind and solar energy are providing well-paying jobs
across the nation.
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Renewable energy has become a force to be
reckoned with, which is great for the economy, the environment, and for ratepayers.
Clean energy and energy efficiency support over 3 million American jobs. The costs of wind and solar are falling
dramatically every year. Emissions from the power sector are at a 25-year low after falling 4.2%
last year. And, Americans are paying the smallest percentage of their income on
electricity than ever recorded. It’s not often that a solution to a complex problem
has so many positive effects. The renewable energy industry is providing
affordable, reliable energy for consumers and businesses in a rapidly-changing environment,
all while billions of dollars in the U.S. economy, and that’s something all
Americans can support.
This blog post originally appeared in Morning Consult.
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