The renewable energy sector is up for some pretty big changes as a series of carbon cuts start making their way in to the many coal plants that populate the United States. The cuts, which will approximately be 30% from their 2005 levels, will have a significant impact both on existing jobs and conversations around the future of renewables and green energy.
Mike Brune, who has been the executive director of the Sierra Club since March of 2010 stated,
“If you’re working in the solar or wind industry, you should feel very happy right now. Those are industries growing faster than the rest of the economy. It’s clear that those are going to be the industries to work in, invest in and watch. They’re about to explode in growth.”
The plan itself spans some 645 pages and is projected to be set in stone sometime next year. When the legislation does go through, it will be the largest move from any administration to tackle global warming.
When the plan made headlines in late May, much of the news surrounding the proposed carbon cuts elicited mixed reviews. Critics on the left hailed the plan as bringing a much needed curb to escalating global warming and the United States’ dependence on coal. However, critics on the right slammed the cuts as putting thousands of coal miners out of jobs.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the proposed legislation a, “dagger in the heart of the American middle class.” He went on to voice how the cuts would be directly responsible for higher power costs and possibly less reliability.
Without filing for an extension, states will have until June 30 of 2016 to submit their plan for how they will implement the cuts. It is here that green energy suppliers have a real chance to step in and become much more involved in the US’s energy portfolio. From new cap-and-trade schemes, increased utilization of wind farms or even the proliferation of some outlier forms of green energy generation.
It is worth noting that the numbers and percentages that are being cited is the date from which the cuts are based off of. Cuts must be 30% of the 2005 levels. By doing this, the EPA has essentially made the task for each state much easier. Since 2005, many states have already reduced carbon emissions; some by almost 15% (see Texas’ improvements here). However, the majority of that 15% came from quick wins and low hanging fruit, the latter half might prove to be a bit trickier to impose.
While these cuts will be a game-changer for states, many big name brands and corporations have already stepped up to the plate and began implementing renewables into their powering plans. This April, Google invested more than $100 million dollars into solar energy with an additional $150 million promised by the company they invested in, SunPower. With this recent investment, Google has devoted more than a billion dollars towards renewables and green energy.
Even with their 1 billion dollar investment, Google does not lead the race when it comes to large corporations adopting green energy practices in the United States. Intel takes the lead in overall green investments. The entirety of Intel relies on renewable energy sources. That’s approximately 3.1 billion kilowatt-hours annually from renewable energy sources.
Big name investors are also increasing their investments into green energy. Recently, Warren Buffet, owner of the Iowa utility company MidAmerican stated that he would be investing nearly 2 billion dollars into wind farms. The investment hopes to be the first step to making MidAmerican operate using have of its energy from wind power by 2017.
Would you like to weigh-in on the recent legislation? I’d love to hear from you either by email at [email protected] or in the comment below.