President Barack Obama recently pushed for increased energy efficiency in his State of the Union address. His endorsement is a plus, no argument. But it may not be the federal government that drives the industry’s next growth spurt.
Increasingly, the push for clean energy seems to be more grassroots, from the city and community.
Consider these significant green energy trends and events.
Why is the city, town and community increasingly the force behind clean and efficient energy?
I recently interviewed Rob Thornton, president at International District Energy Association, while preparing this year’s guidebook on combined heat and power, published by PennWell. He offered an interesting insight.
Much like banking, the power industry has been undergoing consolidation in recent years – mergers and acquisitions and takeovers by national and international energy companies. In many places the hometown utility is no more. As a result, city officials have little sway over the shape of their electricity system.
“Mayors used to have a direct relationship with the leadership of the investor-owned utility. That person is now three states away. Mayors are recognizing that they don’t have the same reach or leverage or engagement that they used to have,” Thornton said.
As a result, mayors and city leaders increasingly believe it is their responsibility to bring clean energy to their cities. They feel compelled to act, sometimes through organizations like C-40 Cities, a network of megacities worldwide working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “It is a trend that we really see emerging,” Thornton said.
This trend is good for clean energy in many ways. Decisions made close to home evoke less not-in-my-back-yard opposition to new infrastructure. Locals develop a sense of ownership in energy projects, and therefore are more likely to support than oppose them.
So while it is good news that clean energy and energy efficiency are getting attention from the highest office holder in the US, the industry also stands to gain from the home team. Enlightening the mayor and the city council about the benefits of efficiency may prove as important as winning support from the President and Congress.
Elisa Wood is a long-time energy writer whose blog originates weekly at RealEnergyWriters.com.
Lead image: Green city via Shutterstock
The information and views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications. This blog was posted directly by the author and was not reviewed for accuracy, spelling or grammar.