Clean Energy: Recovery vs. Addiction

If America is addicted to oil, as President Bush and others have said, then why is nothing being done to help us break this addiction?

And if addiction requires a “12 Step” process to overcome it, then the American people and our government need to face reality and actually create an energy policy that promotes clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency as a means to weaning us off our addiction.

For too long now the American people have been told that clean energy — energy supplied by the sun, the wind and other clean, renewable energy sources — was some kind of futuristic promise, not ready for primetime, and certainly not strong enough to power our American lifestyles. But the reality is that clean energy today is real. It’s here. And it’s working. And what’s more, when you use it, nothing changes — the lights still work, your heat still keeps you warm in winter and the air conditioning still keeps you cool in summer. All that’s changed when you buy clean energy is that our air becomes cleaner, our communities become more healthy and our nation becomes more energy independent.

Our leaders in Washington and the mainstream media may not know it yet — but the American people are once again, way ahead of them. What’s happening in states and local communities across this country is a real effort to break our addiction and create a strong clean energy marketplace.

For example, what’s been happening in Connecticut is nothing short of revolutionary. A collaboration of state government agencies, non-profit organizations and Connecticut’s two utility companies have banded together to create a strong market for clean energy. What’s more, 62 cities and towns across the state have committed themselves to purchasing 20% clean energy by 2010. Further, close to 20,000 Connecticut citizens have taken up the cause and have actually signed up for clean energy.

Back in the 1970’s clean energy was derided as a weak and ineffective source of energy. Well, that was then. Today, clean energy is more powerful and more available than many people think. In fact, right now the U.S. creates enough clean energy to power every home in 11 states; we make enough clean energy to power every hospital in the country. And we make enough clean energy to power every professional sports stadium coast to coast.

But perhaps what’s more exciting is who’s actually purchasing clean energy. Staples Super Store and Wal Mart — two “big box” stores derided as “energy drains” are actually running on clean energy. FedEx Kinkos, Whole Foods, and a host of other major companies we know are actually using and running on clean energy. And amazing as it may sound, the single largest purchases of clean energy in the nation is the U.S. Air Force. That’s right — Uncle Sam himself knows that clean energy works, and he’s protecting our nation with it.

So why can’t we do this on a national level? The answer is, we can. The American people are already committed, focused and engaged. We just need our political leaders and the media to understand that clean energy actually does work, and that weaning us off fossil fuels is a vital and serious national issue that needs to be addressed.

As our Presidential contests heat up, it’s time to ask the candidates the real tough questions. Who is going to break America’s addiction and lead us to a marketplace where clean energy drives our economy and our lives?

Recovery from any addiction requires honesty, hard work and change. In Connecticut they are proving that they can recover and break the addiction. In Connecticut as it is across the country, clean energy is real. It’s here. And it’s working.

Brian F. Keane is President of SmartPower (www.smartpower.org), a non-profit marketing organization dedicated to promoting clean energy and energy efficiency.

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