The Power of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Our new administration seems more focused on fossil-fuel usage than the past administration, considering Trump’s executive actions signed in January that put the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines back on the agenda. I assume jobs and the economy are the president’s motivation, but I can’t help but wonder whether he has done his research. (Feel free to do your own investigation about how many of these pipeline jobs will be permanent and how much the pipelines actually will contribute to the U.S. economy.)

Meanwhile, a new report from the Retail Industry Leaders Association, Arlington, Va., and the Information Technology Industry Council, Washington, D.C., ranks all 50 states based on how easily corporations can acquire domestic renewable energy, such as solar and wind, for their operations. (Read more about the report in “News”.) The report states Fortune 500 companies—think Amazon, Google and Walmart—want to establish operations in states with clean-energy production because of fossil-fuel price volatility and pollution concerns. RILA’s press release notes, “The index is intended to inform business leaders and guide state policymakers, hoping to attract new job-creating businesses and foster economic growth.”

Iowa, the state in which I live, resoundingly voted for Trump in the November 2016 election. Iowa also is ranked No. 1 on this “Corporate Clean Energy Procurement Index”. “Access to low-cost renewable energy is a critical part of our economic development strategy,” says Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds in the report’s press release. “These job-creating businesses cite our access to low-cost renewable energy as a major reason for locating in Iowa. In fact, Iowa’s newly released state Energy Plan underscores Iowa’s leadership in renewable energy and the significant role it plays in our economy. Every Iowa wind turbine means income for farmers, revenue for counties and jobs for Iowa families.”

In a Dec. 5, 2016, article on, Greg Kats reports there are more jobs in renewables and energy efficiency than in fossil fuels. He states: “The World Bank estimates that U.S. wind and solar creates about 13.5 jobs per million dollars of spending, and that building retrofits—energy efficiency—creates 16.7 jobs per million dollars of spending. This is more than three times the 5.2 jobs per $1 million for oil and natural gas, and more than two times the 6.9 jobs per $1 million for coal.” In addition, Kats points to another study by AltEnergyStocks that underscores clean-energy jobs are higher quality and pay better than fossil-fuel jobs.

I hope Trump will recognize the economic benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Unfortunately, I’ve heard through a friend who works on the Hill there are rumblings Trump plans to dismantle the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. I am confident all the strides we have made in the building industry related to renewable energy and energy efficiency won’t just disappear, however. In fact, one of retrofit’s conference advisors reminded me, “It helps to have a federal focus but what’s driving these technologies are the local architects and contractors and building owners.”

Thank you for the good work you do! I will continue championing those of you on the ground and in manufacturing who keep working toward better, more efficient existing buildings and, consequently, are creating jobs.

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

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