Making Clean Local Energy Accessible Now
By: Samantha Ruiz
Renewable electricity’s benefits to the economy are clear. It creates more jobs than fossil fuel for every dollar invested and for every unit of energy brought on-line. This new wave of energy reinvests more dollars locally in community-based infrastructure and it places many industries on a platform of innovative technologies. From wind and solar generation to superefficient building materials, not only do renewables protect consumers from rising non-renewable source prices but they also provide stabilization for our economy and creates an even playing field with Europe and China.
Clean energy can power our future and revitalize our economy without a doubt. The issue now lies in getting clean energy projects built on a large scale, fast. However, we need clear signals from federal, state and most importantly, local energy policy as well as sustained national commitments to achieve the adoption of these advanced technologies in our current market.
Currently, at every turn renewable energy is held back by the absence of national policies to guarantee equal standing with traditional sources of power. The CLEAN contract is designed to overcome specific barriers that stand in the way of consumers and business investing in renewable energy projects.
A CLEAN contract is a policy tool that allows renewable energy project owners to sell their electricity to utilities at a predetermined, fixed price for a predicted and extended period of time. Globally, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab has found that 45% of all wind energy and 75 % of all solar electricity capacity installed before 2008 was directly linked to this tool.
Some of the reasons as to why CLEAN contracts are so successful are because they provide three characteristics that allow for a broader reach of clean energy project: transparency, longevity and certainty. Specific details of CLEAN contracts differ based on local market conditions and rules but all share certain key elements the create market growth for clean energy.
For instance, in Ontario, Canada this policy is estimated to create 74,000 jobs by 2015. Domestically, Gainesville, Florida had a sixfold increase in solar in only 18 months for the small cost of 75 cents per ratepayer.
Not only can CLEAN contracts help meet existing commitments to bring renewable energy forward, considering that 29 states including the District of Columbia have a renewable energy standard in place, but they can weave the patchwork of clean energy incentives in the U.S. into a sustainable market framework that is accessible and clearly understood to consumers.
- “Job Creation per $1 Million Investment”, Garrett Peller & Sarah Pickering, (2009)
- DB Climate Change Advisors, “Paying for Renewable Energy: TLC at the Right Price” (2010) http://www.dbcca.com
- “RSP Policies” Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, January 2011, http://www.dsireusa.org