A solar panel on every sunny roof: both conservatives and liberals are in favor of investing in America—the only debate is what we can afford and when. Many so-called investments have nebulous returns. If a student invests in a college degree, and there are no jobs in that field a conservative would say that was a bad investment. How about one that pays back in about seven years?
Roughly speaking, green energy is in this range. If the Federal Government provided the funds there is nothing stopping the US from investing in a sustainable green energy future with sustainable jobs servicing that grid: jobs that cannot be exported.
Now, some States are windy, others sunny, some have coastlines to harvest energy from waves. The States know best which investment has the best opportunities to pay back the loans. At the end of the seven years there would be no net effect on the deficit—so this isn’t an economic battle between Hayekians and Keynesians.
Conservatives might say, the government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers, that the coal industry will be decimated. Perhaps the States that now depend on the coal industry could use their funds to develop the oxymoronic clean coal industry or give preference to the coal industry to help develop these other technologies thereby lessening the transition for its workers, managers, and owners. Plus, since this is a generational move, the coal industry has a couple decades to transition no matter what the outcome. Coal would always be a Plan C energy source for America, behind Green Energy and Natural Gas.
The green banks in every state can decide how the loans are to be administered. My suggestions would be to spread them consumer through producer. E.g. If the roof owner were to invest their funds they could sell excess energy, if the consumer has no outlay then those that took the risk should own the energy. Balancing risk and reward is the American way. If the coal industry wants to guarantee the payback in their States that would mitigate the harmful effects of the transition.
In a poll of independents, conservatives, and liberals where their ratings are given equal weight, 90% viewed the Green Bank Payback Act as positive. Is this reflective of society’s views? Here is a poll in California that shows conservatives in favor of developing new green technologies at 73%, with moderates and liberals tied at 86%. Congress doesn’t seem to care. Why?
Opensecrets.org has the Energy Industry having given almost $140,000,000 in political contributions in the last election. The list is almost all non-green, non-renewable sources. The duopoly is bought and paid for, and We, The People, just keep electing them. All roads lead towards omnibus electoral reform.
What are your ideas for green energy projects that already have defined paybacks?