With the election over, America can get back to work – and there is a lot of work to be done. But first, let’s take a moment to reflect on lessons learned from a grueling campaign.
Here are some of our key take-aways for solar:
1. Attacking American renewable energy is not a winning strategy:
Long supported by policymakers across the political spectrum, solar and renewables became a partisan punching bag for the first time this election season. Opponents attacked a homegrown industry they stood behind just a few years ago – simply to sell more tickets to a political circus. Well it didn’t work.
The good news is Americans know what they want: a cleaner, safer, more secure energy landscape. All those attacks – and tens of millions in ads spending by fossil fuel interests – amounted to very little for the anti-renewable canditates.
We all know how that played out on the Presidential stage, but it rang true in state contests as well:
- Angus King (I) won in Maine Senate race despite $650k in NRSC ads attacking his investments in wind energy.
- Dean Heller (R) won in Nevada Senate race running on the claim that he is the stronger candidate for clean energy and that “he has long fought to bring a variety of sources of renewable energy to Nevada.”
- Sherrod Brown (D) won in Ohio Senate race despite $40m spent against him, including significant donations to his challenger from clean energy opponents.
- Maggie Hassan (D) won the New Hampshire Governorship, notable because she supports keeping NH in regional greenhouse gas emmissions (RGGI). Her opponent, Ovide Lamontagne, would have taken NH out of RGGI.
Let this election mark the close of a regrettable chapter in American politics – a time when supporting American innovation, jobs, and public health became less important than throwing political punches.
2. Climate change mattered big time:
In a year that featured record heat nationwide, drought conditions and crop loss throughout the Midwest and severe forest fires in the Rockies, one event finally put climate change squarely in the national election spotlight.
The Hurricane Sandy Superstorm unilaterally created a wholesale shift in climate politics. It resulted in high profile statements from New York Mayor Bloomberg (I) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R). It gave American voters the reason they needed to make a direct link between climate change impacts and the kind of leadership they want to see from their policymakers on the issue. It factored into a whopping 4 out of 5 New Jersey voters‘ decisions for President on November 6. Climate change action became relevant to the point that it was notably included in the President’s acceptance speech: “We want our children to live in an America that […] isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet […] I am looking forward to […] meet the challenges we can only solve together [like…] Freeing ourselves from foreign oil.”
Candidates at all levels will have a very tough time talking about climate change in a regressive or obstructionist light from now on. Sandy was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and avoiding addressing climate change with a renewable energy platform is not only outmoded, it’s a political liability.
3. Solar has accomplished a LOT in the last four years – here’s to four more!:
Amid the noise of messy election politics and a tough recession economy – solar power has been quietly and effectively transforming our nation’s energy landscape for the better.
Solar is working hard for America:
- Domestic energy market growth – we’ll have 7 GW installed cumulatively by the end of the 2012. That’s 15 times more solar than we had installed at the start of the recession. That’s HUGE.
- Private sector jobs – Solar job growth continues to be a particularly bright spot in our recovering economy with 119,000 workers across all 50 states, up an impressive 13.2% since last year.
- Driving investment - According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, $7.6 Billion was invested in solar projects over the past year – a much-needed engine for economic growth.
We’re proud of what solar has accomplished in such a short time for our country – and look forward to expanding that success in all 50 states over the next four years and beyond. Vote Solar!