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Rebuilding the Economy through Renewable Energy

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Rebuilding the Economy through Renewable Energy

By now, most of us are aware of the many benefits offered by renewable energy, specifically solar power.  Some of the most obvious benefits include:

·         Reduce or even eliminate energy bills

·         Decrease carbon emissions

·         Have a reliable and resilient source for power, especially when the grid is down or unavailable

·         Earn tax credits and rebates

·         Strengthen your company’s social and environmental responsibility profile

Those benefits aside, and in light of the economic challenges posed by the pandemic, solar energy plays a role that has become abundantly clear in recent months – rebuilding the economy.

According to the U.S. Energy and Employment Report (published March 2020), half of the 6.8 million energy sector jobs in the U.S. were in clean energy, and in just a few short months of the pandemic, 13% of those jobs were lost.  As with most industries, jobs in renewable energy suffered from the economic hit of COVID-19, along with jobs in oil and gas, coal and utilities; that being stated, there is great potential for renewable energy to grow in 2020.

As published by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) last month, there are four reasons why investing in clean energy is vital to rebuilding the U.S. economy, and those reasons include:

1.       Clean Energy Growth - Clean energy jobs are increasing and were doing so even prior to COVID-19. From 2015-2019, the clean energy sector was adding jobs 70% faster than the overall US economy. Before the pandemic, 3.4 million Americans worked in clean energy occupations.

2.       Growing Room - Clean energy jobs have room to grow.  A clean economy is a smart way to generate good-paying jobs that can help lift the U.S. out of the recession and sustain long term growth. One study by PERI and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst  found that clean energy investments create three times more jobs than an equivalent investment in fossil fuels.

3.       Environmental and Health Benefits – While this one is an obvious one for anyone who knows anything about clean energy, it is especially important as we gain perspective on moving the economy forward and envisioning what we want for the future of our planet and the safety and health of the next generation. Both the transportation and energy sectors (coal-fired power plants and refineries) are responsible for some of the largest sources of harmful air pollution in the U.S., which increases rates of asthma, heart disease and other health issues. According to Science Magazine by AAAS, it has been estimated that air pollution causes between 90k-360k deaths in the U.S. every year.  Additionally, air pollution aggravates the heart and lung conditions that increase the risk of death from COVID-19.  A shift toward clean energy has the potential to not only improve health outcomes, but also help build a stronger, healthier and more equitable workforce.

4.       Clean Energy is Supported by all Parties – On both sides of the aisle, many federal policymakers and candidates are taking notice of the wealth of evidence pointing to the need for increased clean energy investment. Support for clean energy through policy changes can rebuild the U.S. economy in a way that tackles critical climate, health and equity challenges.

COVID-19 has changed the way in which people are living and working across the globe, as well as impacted the U.S. economy and unemployment rates, and it is not expected to be the last event of this kind.  During the pandemic, we have continued to see evidence of more catastrophic events caused by climate change from wildfires to unprecedented severe weather events; having affordable, consistent and reliable sources for power such as solar energy are not only necessary for rebuilding the economy and mitigating the impacts of climate change, but are also essential to the survival of all living creatures on our planet.