Let There Be Light…and Jobs

Recently, union workers took to the streets to protest a company’s refusal to negotiate some of the terms of their employment contract. Strikes based on salary or benefits are common enough but what made this situation different was that it was at an electric utility company, and it took place in the face of both utility companies’ record profits and this summer’s record temperatures.

In addition to high temperatures, another record was set recently; according to CNN Money, the largest utility company in the state of Colorado generated a record 57% of its energy from wind power. We have wind and sunlight in abundance in this country; that much is clear and can’t be refuted, even by those who deny science. We also have the necessary technology - including wind, solar and water-generated systems – so it’s also clear that neither natural resources nor tech innovations prevent the development of clean energy systems and the jobs that would result from their creation.

According to the nonpartisan policy initiative group Energy Future Coalition:

“Investing in clean technology will create millions of new jobs in the U.S. Rebuilding America, the Coalition’s plan to upgrade the energy efficiency of 50 million buildings by 2020, would create 625,000 full-time jobs. The 25x’25 renewable energy initiative is expected to create 5 million new jobs by 2025, and stimulate over $700 billion in economic activity. A recent report found that investing in our electric infrastructure would create up to 200,000 full-time jobs over the next 20 years. These infrastructure investments would facilitate the construction of new renewable energy generation, resulting in an additional 250,000 full-time jobs.”

About two years ago, Reuters reported that Representative Brian Baird (D-WA), chairman of the House subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, noted that the nation’s electric distribution network system has parts that are nearly 100 years old which, when coupled with growth in demand, are straining the grid system. Significant improvements haven’t taken place since then — and without public-private partnerships the opportunity to create more jobs will be lost. Additionally, with increased strain on the grid, customers will have to accept that warnings to reduce usage and regular rolling brown or black outs, such as those currently experienced in Pakistan, are a way of life.

The drive to do this must take place; regular rate increases at the utility companies are a steady occurrence. Corporations will take care of themselves — whether it’s by way of rate increases or employee lock-0uts – in order to ensure that the bottom line is sound.

Here’s a map of the U.S. Electric Utility grid:

See source for full layout of grid system: NPR

President Obama called his energy agenda “absolutely critical to our economic future”.  From the onset, grid-related projects were included in the economic stimulus package. Politics, however, presents the biggest threat to job creation and technological advancement. Politicians who are supported by ‘Big Oil‘ have no desire to move forward on clean initiatives, which explains why the GOP repeatedly blocks efforts to end oil subsidies and opposes support for energy efficiency programs.

Elizabeth Warren said it best:

We’ve got bridges and roads in need of repair, and thousands of people in need of work. Why aren’t we rebuilding America?”

Currently, there is a bill in the House that can put roughly one million people to work in this country…but the bill will continue to be blocked by House Republicans unless they can attach a tax cut extension for the wealthy to it.

There is only one way to ensure that jobs are available for people who want to work at rebuilding this country: by voting those with corporate-sponsored private agendas out of theirs.