Clean Energy Sector: It's Time to Make Your Voices Heard

Last week I heard a great story on NPR's Morning Edition about how a tiny investment in an energy efficient window coating went on to save Americans billions of dollars on utility bills and jump start a green building boom.

It's a story arc that my colleagues are familiar with; we have seen this kind of return on clean investment happen over and over again. But it's not enough for NRDC's energy experts to know it. The American people and our elected officials have to hear it too.

That's why I am calling on the clean tech sector to speak out. We need their voices now more than ever. From George Soros to Deutsche Bank to Ivory Tower economists, analysts are saying that major investment in clean energy can help lift America out of its desperate financial straits.

Green collar workers, clean tech venture capitalists, and renewable energy manufacturers are already laying the groundwork. But now they need to go one step further: they need to become a political force:

  • They need to go to Washington and declare that putting America's clean energy infrastructure in place is the biggest economic stimulus plan available right now.
  • They need to tell Congress what a UMass study just confirmed: investing in clean energy solutions could create 2 million U.S. jobs in the next two years--nearly four times as many jobs as investing in more oil production.
  • They need to tell the new White House what George Soros said recently: investing in clean tech and energy efficiency could be the new "motor of the world economy."

The Right Policies Can Unleash the Opportunities

For the past two years, people in the investment world have been praising the massive opportunities in the clean tech sector. The missing link here is not the technology but the policy to move cleaner, more efficient solutions off the shelves, out of the labs, and into the marketplace.

In August, PG&E announced that it would buy 800 megawatts of power from two photovoltaic solar providers. This is a great breakthrough: photovoltaic power will be developed on a large scale for a major utility, and drive down costs in the process.

But this groundbreaking deal almost fell through because Congress literally waited until the last minute--the final Bailout Bill--to extend the renewable energy tax incentive.

That's why good policies are critical. We can write the rules of the game so business can scale up clean solutions quickly and profitably. For instance, a national global warming law would give a market advantage to green energy over dirty fossil fuels. But rules like that don't write themselves.

Speak Up Green Collar Workers and Clean Tech Investors

I urge all of those who believe that clean energy technologies can address our energy and economic crises to make their voices heard. Because right now, the voices of business-as-usual and "drill, baby, drill" are overpowering the calls for clean energy.

The pioneers of the clean energy future have a lot of good news to share. I just hope they start doing it quickly and loudly.