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Horowitz: California Going Solar

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

 

Rob Horowitz

When one wants to know the direction energy and environmental policy is headed over the long-term, it has never been a bad bet to take a look at California.  Last week, California became the first state in the nation to require that all new homes be powered by solar energy.  “California just sent the clearest signal yet that rooftop power is moving beyond a niche market and becoming the norm,” reported Bloomberg News.

This requirement, which is on a rapid 2020 implementation timeline, is one of a series of measures advanced by Governor Jerry Brown, that taken together are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California by 40% by 2030.  By that year, half of California’s energy is mandated to come from renewable sources.

While this requirement that all new homes be solar powered is likely to increase the cost of a new house purchase, experts estimate that the resulting lower energy bills will make it a significant net cost-savings over time for homeowners. Persuaded by these claims, the California construction industry is actually backing the new mandate.

The use of solar power in the United States has increased 600% over the past 6 years or so. This decision by California which is highly likely to be followed by at least some other states will accelerate this exponential growth. As batteries that can store solar and wind power become more advanced and less expensive, the transition from fossil fuels to non-carbon producing renewables is likely to proceed much more rapidly than previously envisioned.

These kinds of advances and their embrace by state and local elected officials as well as many businesses is why-- despite the Trump Administration’s abandonment of leadership on climate change--the United States will still in all likelihood meet its Paris commitments.

In the long run, far-sighted local and state leaders, such as Jerry Brown, will have a much larger impact on the direction of climate and energy policy-- both here at home and around the world-- than will President Trump, whose rhetoric about the revival of the coal industry is just that and nothing more.  As former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who now serves as UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, said, “Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up – and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us.”  

California keeps showing the rest of us the way.

 

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island

 

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