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Victory for Obama: A Mandate for Clean Energy

With President Obama's victory, the renewable energy industry keeps an important ally in the White House. The win comes at a time when energy is rising in national importance.

Given the extent to which the opposition made renewable energy an issue, I think the President’s win gives him a mandate to make clean energy a key part of the agenda for his second term. Now is the time to rally the industry around a comprehensive plan to make our nation’s energy supply more secure, clean and affordable.

Over the last four years, our nation’s energy situation has changed for the better in two important ways:

  1. Wind and solar have proven they can play a significant role in mainstream energy markets as an affordable source of clean electricity.  That’s thanks in part to President Obama’s leadership on the ARRA stimulus programs that bridged the industry through the global financial crisis.
  2. The boom in U.S. shale gas production has fundamentally altered our domestic energy options, edging out coal as the fossil fuel of choice.

These developments open new doors in terms of how we think about our energy future. With abundant and cheap solar, wind, and natural gas we can effectively have it all — a secure and stable mix of domestically-sourced clean energy at no additional cost over the status quo.

But there are pitfalls in our new found abundance as well. If we’re not careful we could end up overly dependent on gas, leaving us exposed to future price shocks. Leadership is required to define our national energy goals and keep the country on the right path.

The attacks during the campaign on solar and renewables — and climate change for that matter — were as fierce and they were well-funded. Despite those attacks, public opinion about renewables proved to be resilient. Solar and wind remain the top two most positively viewed energy sources with bipartisan favorability ratings in excess of 80%. Americans clearly understand the benefit of renewables and I think the President can rightfully claim a mandate to pursue a clean energy agenda.

The solar industry and SEIA stand ready to do our part. We’re continuing to drive out cost, accelerating solar’s transition to competitive markets and reduced dependency on government incentives. What we need in return is a stable policy environment that enables our industry to plan with confidence and ensures the flow of capital to good projects and companies.

Congratulations President Obama on your win. Here’s to four more years of making renewable energy part of our broader energy mix!

Lead image: President Obama via Shutterstock

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