If one thing can be said about energy trends from the past year, it's that dirty fossils fuels are out and clean energy is in. The renewable energy success stories are countless: 150,000 rooftop solar panels have been installed in California, states like Iowa and South Dakota already have 20 percent of their electricity generated by wind power, and the more than 50 gigawatts of installed wind capacity in the U.S. are enough to power over 15 million American homes.
With continued support, the growing renewable energy force is unstoppable. But sadly, putting a stop to this growth is exactly what Congress might do in less than three weeks by killing the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).
The PTC is one of several tax incentives that invest in job-creating clean energy solutions. It has helped kickstart the clean energy economy and drive the creation of 110,000 jobs as American companies have doubled down on wind and solar. The last time a PTC expired, wind installations dropped dramatically. Renewing it should be obvious. However, big coal, oil, and gas companies that love polluting freely and pocketing big profits that come with a social cost will do whatever it takes to keep clean energy solutions out of the picture.
What we need to do is remain focused on keeping our communities safe, creating jobs, and acting on climate change -- and that means remaining focused on clean energy. Increasing the supply of renewable energy would allow us to replace carbon-intensive energy sources and significantly reduce U.S. global warming emissions, one-third of which come from the electricity sector.
With continued long-term support, these technologies will help set on us on a path to a healthier future with a stable climate and a stronger economy. All we need to do is act to continue and strengthen incentives that are already in place.
-- Radha Adhar, Sierra Club Associate Washington Representative