A report released today by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy confirms that eleven Southeastern states can tap homegrown clean energy resources to meet a significant percentage of electric power demands. In fact, with existing renewable energy supplies and untapped potential, the Southeast has the capacity to meet a robust renewable energy standard (RES) using sustainably-harvested biomass, wind, solar (PV and thermal), landfill gas and hydroelectric energy. An RES is a market-based mechanism that requires electric utilities to generate a specific percentage of energy from clean, renewable sources.
Earlier this month, Reps. Markey (D-MA) and Platts (R-PA) introduced legislation to implement a robust RES with the goal of 25 percent renewable energy generation by 2025. Not only would this policy diversify our energy mix, and thus improve our national security, it would create millions of new job opportunities throughout the Southeast and reduce our global warming pollution at the same time.
In 2008 the Blue-Green Alliance (a partnership between the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club) published a report showing that a concentrated program to develop the Southeast’s renewable energy resources could create between 16,000-30,000 jobs per state here in the Southeast over the next decade. New markets for farm and forest biomass will create additional income for farmers and forest owners, renewing their communities as well.
Our desire to be energy independent is nothing new. The Southeast has a rich history of independence, leadership and a strong rural character. Now our region’s renewable energy resources are poised to contribute to a clean energy future. The time for delay and distraction is over. Now is the time to develop our region’s renewable energy potential!