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VP Joe Biden to Solar Power International 2015 "Thank you for what you're doing for our country. Thank you for what you're doing for the world." (video)

4 min. read

Here are a few highlights from Vice President Biden's inspiring speech at the Solar Power International 2015 trade show in Las Vegas on September 16.

  • Vice President Biden noted that at the "first such event I attended of solar power, this middle section right here would have been an overflow crowd...not a joke."  In contrast, there were around 4,000 people at Solar Power International 2015.  According to Biden, solar is increasing "exponentially...all across the country...This year solar has constituted 40% of all the new electrical generation brought online in the United States of America - that's you!"
  • Biden argued that increased solar power means more jobs, "fewer cases of premature death, heart attack, childhood asthma," "net savings to consumers and taxpayers."
  • "We're on the cusp of something huge" with solar power, including a 20-fold increase in U.S. solar power generation since 2009; 174,000 jobs in the solar industry -- "more people than work at Google, Apple, Twitter combined."
  • "And by the way, wind power has tripled as well," and "within 35 years could generate another 600,000 jobs, and these are good, decent-paying jobs...you can raise a family on."
  • "We have to in order to lead the world set the example; that's why the President planned to set the goal to double renewable energy generation by 2020. I'm confident that's fully within your wheelhouse; I quite frankly think we'll exceed that."
  • "Today, I'm announcing a $102 million competitive grant to companies, universities and research laboratories in 15 states to focus specifically on expanding solar power here in America."
  • A clean energy economy is "at our fingertips, it's within our reach...you can feel it." "But," Biden added, "we also know that there are some real challenges ahead," including "modernizing the entire energy infrastructure" to make it "more reliable, resilient, safer and more secure."
  • "We want to give every American...an energy choice...this is the market working."
  • On the resistance of some utilites to solar net metering, Biden noted that "some of the most deep-pocketed special interests that have lobbied for years for fossil fuels are now saying, 'let's stop it, let's take away consumer choice, let's stifle the market'. Isn't it amazing?'" "Look at the special interests backed by the Koch brothers...groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council; they've successfully argued for limits on the amount of net metered systems...It's the special interests pushing back on a fundamental change at every level, trying to alter how the market functions."
  • "Put this in perspective; for I don't know how many years now, we provide over $5 billion a year in tax credits to the oil industry...They don't need that tax credit [anymore]...If we just took half of that and applied it to renewables as a tax credit...it would cover the total cost of all the tax credits...we're talking about, and there would be about $2.5 billion left. We could reduce the deficit. We could actually invest in things middle-class people need....solar energy could quadruple by 2022 if we extend these tax credits...We need to set an example for the whole world by eliminating these wasteful, unnecessary subsidies [to fossil fuels]."
  • "If we step up and capture this energy transformation, we're going to create a virtuous cycle of good-paying jobs, attracting companies to our shores, keeping companies on our shores, keeping them from leaving."
  • Growth of solar and wind power also translates into "jobs in factories making glass and steel, turbines; it's jobs in factories making panels, blades, gear boxes; it's more people working at the diner near where the plant exists; it's more people being able to go to the movie theaters...being able to pay for their kids' college tuition...a virtuous cycle. Good, decent-paying jobs for engineers, construction workers, truck drivers, utility operators, electricians up and down the supply chain. Jobs for a whole lot of veterans; you in the solar industry employ more veterans than any other parts of the economy and thank you for doing that! "
  • "We'll all benefit from a cleaner environment and a stronger economy...even those people who want to stop us from investing in the kinds of things you're doing; they will breath cleaner air, they will be in better shape...It's no longer an either-or proposition folks."
  • "I wouldn't go long on investments that lead to carbon pollution; I'd bet on clean energy...Major, multi-billion-dollar companies now are pricing in the cost of carbon when they make their business decisions...It's become an economic imperative to look at."
  • There's also a "whole lot of other reasons we have to make these [clean energy] investments. There's a climate change argument, there's a national security argument, there's an economic argument, and as you're going to hear from the Pope, there's also a moral argument."
  • On climate change, Biden stated that it constitutes an "existential threat," the question being "whether we have a future at all over the long run."
  • Biden argued that the United States has "incredible assets" to solve this problem and "usher in a clean energy future," including: 1) a "consensus among the American people" in support of clean energy;  2) "the most advanced scientific and technological skill set in the world;" and 3) "an economic system that accommodates this change quickly, the most agile venture capitalist in the world...the ability to solve consquential problems [is] stamped into our DNA."
  • Biden conclude: "Americans believe that anything is possible if we put our mind to it, and darn it we'd better continue to put our mind to it. We explore, we invent, we build, we break down barriers, we never stop.  If there's any group of Americans who I don't have to explain this to, it's probably all of you. So thank you. Thank you for what you're doing for our country.  Thank you for what you're doing for the world. Thank you all... Keep it going, we need you badly!"
Topics: Public Affairs