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Advancing Clean Energy at the State Level - An Imperative


Advancing Clean Energy at the State Level - An Imperative

Dana Drugmand

In the wake of President Trump's recent decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, one thing seems abundantly clear, and that is that the role of states in advancing clean energy becomes even more important. Now more than ever, policies and programs to promote sustainable energy resources will come from the state level.


Many states are making significant progress at increasing clean energy. This appears to be occurring in all areas of the country except for the South. The South has great potential for solar but seems to be still leading in coal burning. But expect Trump to fight back against states pursuing more clean energy where possible. He is likely to sue to undermine renewable portfolio standards. Trump has many thousands of lawyers at his disposal and will probably get them working on lawsuits to stop the states from hindering in any way the profits of the fossil fuel industry and his own power to set the energy agenda for the country.


While California, Hawaii and a few other states that pay high power rates have seriously advanced renewable energy, most states have not. Hostility toward renewable energy is NOT limited to the South.

I worked in electrical power generation for two decades in states bordering Canada and observed a lot of lip service advocating the advancement of renewable energy concurrent with action hostile to renewable energy.


The articles says that a majority of the states, 29 states, have renewable portfolio standards which indicates that most states are advancing renewable energy. The increasing market share of wind energy clearly shows that progress is being made. Solar still has only a tiny share of the market but with the declining cost of solar and more interest utility-scale solar it is like solar will plan a much bigger role in the near future. However, if Trump is successful in halting the Clear Power Plan that will be a big setback for efforts to advance clean energy. Closing down coal-burning plants is very important for making progress.


Having skin in the energy conservation and renewable energy game in several states since 1979, and experiencing its successes and failures, my observation is that “renewable energy portfolio standards” vary among the 29 states that have them and many of them lack the incentives needed to sustain advancement of renewable energy. At best, some of them are most accurately characterized as token or feel good.

California Governor Brown’s recent trip to China and yesterday’s meeting in SF with German Minister of the Environment Barbara Hendricks to form alliances are examples of what states need to do to move forward.

Ever since Saint Ron removed Carter’s PV array from the White House roof in January 1981, the Federal gubmit has been part of the problem and not part of the solution on this issue. The remainder of the 20th century witnessed Germany and Japan accelerating past Murka on renewable energy technology and implementation. It has been up to the states to advance the cause ever since then and I concur with the author that Trump is making the Feds an even bigger part of the problem than his recent predecessors have, making meaningful action at the state level more critical then ever.


Installing solar panels last autumn achieved one of my long-time goals. The YUUUUUUUGE drop in the cost of my electric usage/bill is vindication/happiness/thrilling. Lots of sun in Souh Carolina. I am a very happy camper.