First Climate, Now Renewables Disappeared from White House agenda
January 24, 2017
Renewable energy received no mention today on the new White House website, launched today during Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Trump pledged to include renewable energy, including solar and wind, in his energy plan while on the campaign trail last year.
After Trump met with oil and gas industry leaders in October, his campaign put out a press release summarizing his America First Energy Plan, which included the following statement:
The Trump energy policy will make us energy independent, create millions of new jobs, and protect clean air and clean water. We have one of the world’s most diverse resource bases – from abundant coal, oil, and natural gas to geothermal, solar, and wind. We are also the world’s leader in energy technologies like nuclear power.
During a September visit to Pennsylvania, Trump delivered a speech before members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association. Here is what he had to say about his plans for renewable energy then:
Our energy policy will make full use of our domestic energy sources, including traditional and renewable energy sources.
But when a new webpage titled “An America First Energy Plan” appeared on Inauguration Day, shortly after the Trump team began its takeover of WhiteHouse.gov, it contained no mention of renewable energy, and no mention of solar and wind power. It did reiterate Trump’s pledge to eliminate U.S. climate change policies, as noted today by DesmogBlog.
Any informed plan for energy independence must recognize that renewable energy is our nation’s top new source of electricity – and a homegrown source to boot. Solar and wind power are on track to again outpace natural gas and coal for growth in 2016, based on the latest numbers from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission:
President Donald Trump is promising major changes on climate and energy policy, including efforts to increase production from fossil fuel energy sources such as coal. But a new Pew Research Center survey finds that 65% of Americans give priority to developing alternative energy sources, compared with 27% who would emphasize expanded production of fossil fuel sources.
Support for concentrating on alternative energy is up slightly since December 2014. At that time, 60% said developing alternative energy sources was the more important priority.
There continue to be wide political differences on energy priorities. While a 2016 Pew Research Center survey found large majorities of Democrats and Republicans supported expanding both wind and solar energy, the new survey shows that Democrats remain far more likely than Republicans to stress that developing alternative energy should take priority over developing fossil fuel sources.
If you’re not paying attention to what’s going on in energy, you should. We’ve seen this movie before. Spoiler alert: There’s massive economic opportunity ahead. How massive? Imagine standing in 1992, knowing that Google, Akamai, Netflix, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, BuzzFeed and Uber lay ahead.
This time it’s the “enernet,” not the internet, that will transform our lives. The story is the same, though the players have changed.
Here’s the tee up. Across the country, incumbent network providers operate highly centralized networks in their respective cities. Then, scrappy local outfits start serving the market with innovative, distributed technology. These startups create competition, and a new network emerges atop the legacy network.
That was the backdrop 30 years ago when a little thing called the internet emerged. Startups like CompuServe, AOL, EarthLink, Netcom and a host of other local ISPs kicked off the conversion from analog to digital by offering internet access over existing cable and telco networks.
Today, the actors are SolarCity, Sunrun and a host of others moving us off fossil fuels and into clean energy supported by smart equipment, services and software, offered atop existing utility networks. This time, it’s the enernet.
It goes well beyond Tesla. There is a long list of enernet innovators now emerging. They are building nanogrids, microgrids, distributed energy resources and virtual power plants. They are creating new, intelligent building materials and smart lighting. They are deploying new networks and intelligence that are driving down costs and improving services.
At heart, the enernet is the foundation for smart-city tech, including the “Internet of Things,” distributed systems, interconnected backbones and networking technologies, EV-charging services and autonomous vehicles, to name a few. These technologies will drive dramatic change and force us to rethink our cities, municipal services and sectors like transportation, insurance, real estate and financial services.
From the enernet evolution will come smart cities that are an order-of-magnitude smarter, healthier and safer. The new network will also present quantum leaps in energy security and emergency resilience that can stand in the face of superstorms or cyberattacks.
Hold on to your seats. We’re at the early stages of something immense.
Still, I hear the seeds of fear and doubt. There is an oft-cited refrain that the transition will cost a lot and take a long time. That’s absolutely silly. We don’t look back at the internet transformation from analog to digital and think, “Wow, that was slow and cost a ton of money. We should have stuck with the typewriter and landline.” Fact is, it was blazingly fast and driven by those who understood the spend as leveraged investment, not cost center.
Likewise, the move to clean energy will seem fast and prudent as solar and energy storage continue to scale, smart cities accelerate and prices continue their fall.
I also hear “the utilities are in big trouble.” Let’s not be simplistic. Google didn’t kill Comcast. Comcast is doing just fine. The utilities that own transmission and distribution networks (the wires companies) have enormous value and opportunity ahead. There is no way that the transition happens without the participation of these companies, and there is considerable economic upside ahead for them. Forward-thinking utilities — Consolidated Edison, National Grid and others — see what’s coming and are poised to thrive in the enernet world.