The impacts of the pandemic have been widespread. Massive declines in both employment and the production of goods have created an enormous setback in economic activity that led to an unfortunate, yet imminent, recession. Rather than continuing to strain our resources, it is time to consider the opportunities ahead to not only recover but build better infrastructure capable of supporting our national economy well into the future.
Natural disasters, which have tripled in number over the last 30 years, show the fragility of our infrastructure as current grid systems can no longer withstand the floods, winds, fires, and earthquakes that strike every year. Businesses – the backbone of this country’s economy – have been particularly hampered by power outages that occur in the aftermath of these disasters. Utility-planned power outages in California, for example, through an attempt to prevent wildfires, resulted in economic losses estimated at nearly $2.5 billion when businesses throughout the state were forced to shut down. This adds to the growing $150+ billion a year outages cost the U.S. economy.
The U.S. economy is dependent on reliable electricity, and right now the priority should be to develop resilient power sources that ensure businesses remain in operation, regardless of outside factors. To pull this off, we need alignment of all stakeholders, including the utilities and regulators. But ultimately, what must drive the building of resilient infrastructure is government and private investing in renewable energy-based systems. This is the best way to keep the lights on for businesses while simultaneously mitigating the impacts of climate change. To drive multipliers in the economic benefits, even better is investing in renewable energy technology developed and manufactured in America.
The declining costs of renewable technologies have now made renewable energy projects cheaper than even the cheapest coal-fired plants. In places with high electricity costs, like Hawaii and Puerto Rico, this could be a stimulus to the local economy. When energy rates are high for an area, they make local businesses less competitive and drive away opportunity, suppressing economic well-being for citizens.
Before the coronavirus, clean energy jobs were the fastest growing area of jobs in the U.S. and were thriving in every state. While the analysis of the impact of closing fossil fuel plants will eliminate jobs, the clean energy jobs that are generated in the transition are far more numerous. To provide for a just transition, we need job training and development programs to support the workforce and communities moving from fossil dependency to a clean energy economy. Through such programs, we can transition the workforce into the millions of job opportunities generated by investing in building green infrastructure.
Fossil fuel jobs are already decreasing, not because of regulation but simply mechanization, and those most impacted are low-wage workers. Clean energy jobs are frequently paying a higher living wage and providing better working conditions than fossil fuel jobs. By accelerating the clean energy industry, we can begin to repair the injustices and inequalities in our economic and social systems.
For many people, the hesitation in making this clean energy transition is a question of whether or not the technology needed to support this goal is readily available. The answer is absolutely yes! That is what Blue Planet Energy has been doing for several years with mature, proven technology.
Day-in and day-out, Blue Planet Energy has been creating energy solutions that reliably generate energy at a lower rate than the utility can deliver – without being subject to power outages – and this security is something every business, and every community, should have access to. Now is the time to accelerate efforts, to find the allies aligned on this journey, and to get to work making a bright, healthy future.
Let’s rebuild our economy by building the infrastructure for the future: clean, resilient, and safe. And while I hope we can align around this as a priority at home, let’s not forget that others across the globe are already doing this. For the U.S. to remain competitive, we need to apply our ingenuity and economic engine to infrastructure. Resilient, renewable energy infrastructure not only benefits our economy now, it will be the backbone of a thriving future for our country.