#Cleantechers, The New York Times’ David Wallace Wells is out with a fascinating piece, “Clean Energy Is Suddenly Less Polarizing Than You Think.” The headline writer should have swapped in “Surprisingly” for “Suddenly,” to better reflect the writer's views. But I quibble.
I think Mr. Wallace-Wells is correctly spotting the trend line, but I fear he sees it as longer than it really is. We're still a long way from pulling clean energy back from the culture wars into apolitical, mainstream business. Then again, 10 years of working on this frustrating problem might have infected me with too much skepticism. Only time will tell.
Mixing both insights from the piece and some personal observations, here’s what seems certain in the home stretch of Q1 ’23:
1.) The party-line vote on the landmark Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was not heavily weaponized in the 2022 election cycle.
2.) Much of the IRA’s spending is in the form of tax credits, designed to resist unwinding by hostile, headline-seeking politicians carrying water for the fossil fuel lobby.
3.) Despite some early chest pounding by now-Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, House conservatives have not gone after the IRA via the DOE Loan Guarantee Program – at least not yet.
4.) #Renewableenergy factories and power plants are being largely built in politically conservative, “red” areas. People in those communities heavily associate clean energy with President Biden, whom they despise.
5.) Building #wind and #solar farms is increasingly difficult.
6.) A handful of anti-clean energy operatives are working to stoke local opposition. They're a significant but supplemental factor. Each has past and/or present ties to the fossil fuel lobby.
7.) Clean energy has spent the last 10 years under-investing in its public case making, particularly in rural communities.
There’s a growing recognition that we have to change that last point. Speed and scale will go a long way in determining our collective fate.
The good news is that more and more, it’s our hands on the steering wheel. Let’s drive forward, and fast.