Washington, DC (April 1) – More than 3,200 leading energy industry business owners, experts, advocates and developers urged the House and Senate to act swiftly in passing a national renewable electricity standard (RES) today. In releasing their letter , a range of industry leaders from throughout the Southeast held a press telebriefing to discuss how the passage of a strong RES will create tens of thousands of new jobs in the region and strengthen our nation’s energy independence.
“In the coming weeks, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and House Committee on Energy and Commerce will consider proposals that could at last put our entire nation on the path to energy independence,” said Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). “We’re here today to set the record straight: all regions, including the resource-rich Southeast, stand ready to reap the benefits of a national commitment to building a workforce based on homegrown resources like wind, solar, biomass, and hydro and geo-thermal energy.”
“A strong renewable electricity standard could help pull our economy out of the ditch by creating nearly 300,000 new jobs— more than three times as many jobs than fossil fuels,” said Jeff Deyette, an analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “With its existing manufacturing infrastructure and skilled labor force, the Southeast is poised to land many of these high-quality jobs.”
Renewable industry leaders reiterated how a federal RES would unleash the Southeast’s renewable energy potential and position the region as a leader in the transition to a clean energy economy.
“Right now, Germany is the worldwide leader in solar energy production, yet they have less than half the solar potential that the southeastern U.S. holds,” said James Marlow, president of Radiance Solar, a solar startup based in Atlanta, Georgia. “A federal RES would help us tap into the incredible resources at our disposal, and extend money-saving benefits to people all over the Southeast.”
“It is important people realize that clean, renewable energy can be made right here in Kentucky,” said David Brown Kinloch, president and CEO of Lock 7 Hydro Partners and co-owner of the Mother Ann Lee Hydroelectric Station. “Every kilowatt-hour we generate means about one less pound of dirty coal that has to be extracted from the ground and two less pounds of harmful carbon dioxide that go up into the air,” Brown Kinloch said.
“Forest owners and small businesses hold a vast untapped potential to power our homes and bring real economic benefits to our communities,” said Stephen Whitfield, executive director of North Carolina Woodlands. “Instead of importing over $1 billion worth of coal and oil from Colombia, Indonesia and Venezuela each year, landowners can be generating their own electricity and keep those energy dollars here in the South. In addition to these benefits, our forests will be healthier, more productive and profitable, sequester more carbon, and won’t be lost as easily to other land uses.”
“A strong RES would play an integral role in spurring industries like biomass, which already have great potential for creating jobs and promoting economic development in impoverished rural areas, particularly in African American communities,” said Joe James, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for Economic Opportunity (CEO), a non-profit economic development organization in South Carolina that helps disadvantaged individuals and communities reach their economic potential. “In times like these, we can’t afford to fall behind other nations. We need Congress to step up and support the kind of homegrown innovation that has always made our country great.” # # #