Trump, renewable energy, and why I’m not scared

Solar farm. Trump, renewable energy

Solar farm at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada

Donald Trump is no friend of the environmental movement. Or, apparently, of renewable energy.

Nevertheless, I refuse to join the hysteria of some who seem to think he’s out to destroy the planet.

In particular, the Trump/Pence ticket’s energy platform could have been written by fossil fuel company lobbyists.

It appears to reverse the policies of not only the Obama administration, but the George W. Bush administration. Both championed clean energy projects

Bush, an oil man, warned that Americans are addicted to oil. Trump and Pence complained about the “war on coal.” Does that mean they want to derail renewable energy? And if they want to, can they?

Clean energy is too big to kill

home solar panels on rooftopOnce, solar and wind energy occupied the fringe of the American energy sector. They were undependable and expensive.

No more.

The cost of producing electricity from the sun and wind has plummeted in recent years. Clean energy is cost competitive with fossil fuels.

The energy storage industry has matured. After a massive leak at a gas storage facility, California utilities put installation of lithium battery systems on a fast track. As storage becomes more dependable, it will make natural gas unnecessary, at least during peak periods.

California is a liberal state with an immediate crisis. But conservative states like Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina also embrace clean energy.

More than that, more and more businesses have chief sustainability officers. Even some businesses that hardly seem environmentally friendly see some aspect of sustainability as crucial to their bottom line. Business sustainability especially embraces clean energy.

Trump campaigned on employment and jobs

trump, renewable energyMore people now work for solar energy companies than work for fossil fuel companies.

Solar energy alone has witnessed a 20% increase in employment over the past four years.

Does it make any sense for Trump to favor fossil fuels at the expense of all those jobs? Besides, it’s hard to outsource installation of solar panels or the construction of a wind farm to China.

Elon Musk has become a member of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. Although the two differ on climate change, they have common cause in their commitment to US manufacturing.

Musk, by the way, points out that Trump’s proposed regulations can make it easier for people to invest in fossil fuels. But they can’t make it economically viable now that renewable energy is becoming less expensive.

Politicians regularly break campaign promises, but rarely the ones that form the cornerstone of their appeal.

The new energy secretary supports wind energy

Wind farm. trump, renewable energy

Wind farm

Rick Perry’s latest presidential race came to an abrupt halt. He couldn’t remember the third of three cabinet departments he wanted to abolish.

It was Energy, and ironically, Trump nominated him to be Secretary of Energy.

The former Texas governor, like Trump, champions fossil fuels. While he was governor, he attempted to expedite construction of 18 new coal plants. A lawsuit by environmental groups blocked all but two of them.

But also on Perry’s watch, Texas became the largest producer of wind energy. He supported and signed legislation that mandated new transmission lines to connect remote wind farms to the grid.

And the wind farms hadn’t even been built yet.

When Perry took office in 2000, Texas’ wind power amounted to about 210 megawatts. Now it has almost 19,000.

Perry’s successful record with wind power contrasts to the dismissive remarks Trump made about it on the campaign trail. Whatever he accomplishes for fossil fuels will not come by cutting back on clean energy.

Trump is a good listener

energy star. trump, renewable energyAt first the Trump candidacy looked like a joke. Then he rolled over 16 other Republicans to get the nomination. Most of them had better qualifications.

How?

Because he listened to people the national party had ignored.

And he listened better in key states than Hillary Clinton. County by county, even states that Clinton carried look like islands of blue in a sea of red.

He listened to more than the angry old white men cited so often in the press. I have read about skeptical groups of people meeting with Trump. I have lost track of how many.

They have reported that he listened carefully and asked good questions. If they didn’t think they had persuaded him, at least they came away knowing he had heard them.

In December 2015, Trump took time to meet privately with both Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore about climate change. Trump suggested a second meeting with DiCaprio. They probably won’t change his mind about climate change, but that’s a phony issue anyway.

If they presented any of the other myriad reasons to take good care of the environment, I’m sure he noticed.

Trump supporters support renewable energy

trump, renewable energyAccording to a survey by the Conservative Energy Network, 75% of Trump supporters support clean energy. More than 60% want more emphasis on solar and 52% want more support for wind.

Some, of course, want less emphasis on renewable energy, but only 38% want more emphasis on coal.

Trump listened to opponents like DiCaprio and Gore. Is it too much to expect that he will listen to his supporters?

It’s too much to expect that Trump will become an advocate for environmental issues. Bur let’s not listen to the fearmongers who predict environmental disaster. They seem to care too much about fundraising for their organizations.

Many conservatives actually favor conservation of resources. If that matters to you, please share this post widely.

Sources:
Al Gore just had “an extremely interesting conversation” with Trump on climate change / Juliet Eilperin and Jenna Johnson, The Washington Post. December 5, 2016
Analyst: doubtful Trump will interfere with renewable energy boom / Wayne Barber, Electric Light & Power. December 7, 2016
Don’t worry, Trump supporters love renewable energy / Ben Schiller, Fast Company. December 7, 2016
Home solar power: Americans still overwhelmingly support solar / GetSolar. December 8, 2016
Leonardo DiCaprio meets with Donald Trump on renewable energy / Brooke Seipel, The Hill. December 8, 2016
Perry’s energy record includes renewables support, advocates say
Renewable energy is here to stay: the industry has grown up, and it’s too big to kill / Angelo Young, Salon. December 7, 2016
Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Trump: ‘I think we may see some surprising things from the next administration on renewables’ / Fred Lambert, Electrek. January 6, 2017
Trump, carbon neutrality and the next phase of business sustainability / Andrew J. Hoffman, SFGate, December 11, 2016

Photo credits:
Solar farm at Nellis AFB. Public domain, US Air Force photo
House with solar panels. Some rights reserved by Richard Masoner
Renewable energy in palm. Source unknown
Wind farm. © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Energy Star saves money. Source unknown
Poll checkmark. Source unknown


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