A new Gallop poll has found that Americans regard having an energy bill providing incentives for solar and other clean energy options ahead of all other identified policy issues including, overhauling the federal tax code, speeding up withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, or expanding drilling for domestic oil and gas. According to Gallop, 83 percent of Americans would favor such a bill and only 15 percent would oppose.
The polling data are consistent with that of the solar industry that consistently shows overwhelming support for accelerating clean energy penetration. Industry surveys indicate that 80 percent of Americans favor reallocating federal fossil fuel subsidies to clean energy systems. Yet the new Congress and many new state legislatures are surely more hostile to clean energy agenda than ever, widening the chasm between energy policies the public prefers and likely legislative outcomes.
Why the disconnect?
The firmly established “old economy” fossil fuel industries are much more effective in communicating their interests and affecting energy policy. Clean energy technology manufacturers appear to be too new, less experienced in legislative interaction, and maybe too busy to “change the game.” In this milieu, there is only one constituency that can effectively influence policy debates and move Congressional members and local state legislators – business and industry.
Michigan clean energy manufacturing and technology companies are the fastest growing segment of Michigan’s economy. Over $10 billion in capital investment in production infrastructure for new wind, solar and advanced energy storage systems is creating whole new sectors in Michigan’s economy and establishing Michigan as a leader in clean energy technology manufacturing. Clean Edge, an authoritative source of research on clean technology industry trends, reports that Michigan is now first among states in clean energy patents – portending robust future opportunities as we commercialize clean energy intellectual property. The business community is the most effective vehicle for the delivery of information on the market shift to a clean energy economy to our political leaders. They must increase their efforts to articulate and effectively communicate the accelerating market acceptance and evolving demand for low-carbon technologies, products and services they offer.