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What is the Green New Deal? Environmental, Social, & Economic Impacts

What is the Green New Deal? Environmental, Social, & Economic Impacts

We’ve begun 2019 with the signs of climate change all around us - from a searing heatwave in Australia to the polar vortex recently unleashed across the Midwestern United States. As record-breaking events like these fail to convince some of our political figures that the threat of man-made climate change exists, many advocacy groups are pushing for sweeping governmental and regulatory action to confront it and mitigate future damages.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines by proposing a “Green New Deal” that would make climate change a priority for our government, set new goals and standards for energy production, and address pervasive economic issues as well. Predictably, a chorus of naysayers has emerged to call the plan unfeasible and even unnecessary. However, many politicians and renewable energy advocates support the idea.

Let’s examine what this Green New Deal is shaping up to mean and how it could change the energy landscape in the United States.

Green New Deal: Environmental Goals

Ocasio-Cortez’s website contains a draft resolution that outlines a number of the goals that would be prioritized under the Green New Deal. Within a 10-year window from the adoption of the resolution, goals include “meeting 100% of national power demand through renewable sources,” “building a national, energy-efficient, ‘smart’ grid,” and “upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety.” The Green New Deal also calls for the elimination of greenhouse gas production in manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, and infrastructure.

These are very ambitious goals, but they reflect the passion and commitment of an ever-growing coalition that acknowledges the threat of climate change and is working to address it in meaningful, systematic ways. As Axios notes, groups that have rallied behind the Green New Deal include “the Center for Biological Diversity, the Climate Justice Alliance, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Food & Water Watch, Oil Change USA and more,” ultimately numbering in the hundreds of national and local organizations. Additionally, a number of high-profile Democratic politicians (many of them 2020 presidential hopefuls), including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, and Beto O’Rourke, have expressed support for the idea of “a Green New Deal.”

Ocasio-Cortez writes that her Green New Deal includes “making ‘green’ technology, industry, expertise, products and services a major export of the United States, with the aim of becoming the undisputed international leader in helping other countries transition to completely greenhouse gas neutral economies and bringing about a global Green New Deal.” Ambitious? Yes. Important and inspiring? Absolutely.

Green New Deal: Economic Impact

Alongside the environmental goals set forth in the Green New Deal is a plan that would help the emerging alternative energy industry continue to drive job growth, embrace innovation, and ultimately address systemic economic inequality by creating opportunities for those who want to work in the green economy. This would include education and job training programs to prepare a new workforce for careers in alternative energy technology development, implementation, and maintenance.

In short, just as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal both provided opportunity for impoverished American workers and accomplished massive infrastructure and public works projects, the Green New Deal aims to mobilize today’s workforce towards achieving economic and environmental stability and sustainability.

An Alternative Energy Economy

How might this set of policies, if implemented, impact the alternative energy industry? A short series recently published by Greentech Media notes that “with limited exceptions, clean energy advocates are enthusiastic” about the Green New Deal. “A Green New Deal must fundamentally transform the electric grid into a platform for innovation and allow new business models to flourish,” notes energy storage expert Daniel Finn-Foley, who also states that “a national (renewable portfolio standard) may be the only politically feasible way to transition the entire economy to clean energy.”

The Green New Deal would not only allow the alternative energy industry to continue its record of driving job growth and technological development, it would place it at the center of a national project that could reshape our society and the world around us for centuries to come. The responsibility would be immense, but then so are the challenges that we are facing as a result of decades of reliance on coal and oil for energy.

There are many, many unknowns surrounding the idea of a Green New Deal, but it is vital that we seek wide-ranging solutions to the problem of man-made global warming. The alternative energy industry is adaptable, scalable, and eager to prove its worth on a national scale.

It may take years before we see a policy like the Green New Deal implemented, but the conversation it has created is already bringing awareness to the power of green technologies to impact our future for the better. At Solar Design Studio, we’re proud to be part of that conversation. Contact us today to learn more.

 

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What Our Clients Are Saying

I have researched adding PV to my home for several years and have met with several PV providers in the KC area and they tend to fall into two broad categories, the new and low budget operators who got into this to ride the wave and are not that knowledgeable, and the commercial providers who have little interest in working with a homeowner and are geared to providing a much larger system where some economy of scale must come into play. Both my wife and I are architects and we wanted something different and it was challenging to find someone who was interested in doing something out of the ordinary. Neither or those types were interested in working with us as we were trying to create something a bit different. they each wanted to sell us their pre-configured solutions.

 

Fortunately we found Bob Solger. He has been a delight to work with and is incredibly knowledgeable and responsive. We wanted to create a solar carport that would provide cover and protection for our cars, but would also provide shade over part of our patio. In essence, the big idea was to create an outdoor pavilion, when, if we wanted to entertain we could move the cars out of the way and have a large covered area for an outdoor gathering. We had selected the Lumos brand of solar panels as they have a very clean look and are partially transparent so some light filters through the panels creating a mottled light pattern on the ground, similar to the shading from a tree. In addition, the system is set up to hide the majority of the connecting wires in the support beams so when you look up at the underside of the PV roof you see a very clean look. Bob recognized our goal and worked with us to ensure the project’s success. Bob identified a structural engineer to design an elegant support structure and found a fabricator to build it affordably. Finally he connected us with a contracting team to clear the space, provide the footings, retaining walls, and pad, who were every bit as careful with everything as you would hope. They were amazingly accommodating to every request and understood that there were a lot of competing challenges that needed to be resolved so we could fit this all in to a very tight location and make it look like it belongs.

 

The bottom line is that it all turned out better than we could have hoped and while it did cost more than the low ball bids received from some of the low budget operators, it was less than the commercially focused suppliers, and more importantly we got the design we wanted and a well-constructed PV carport that will give us great delight for years to come. The best part is of course the savings on our electric bill, which thus far has been averaging around $200/month. So not only do we have a new carport and entertainment patio that our neighbors have been stopping by and admiring (which given that we live in the older Brookside neighborhood and our PV carport is quite modern, we were much relieved) but, our electric bills have been in the under $10/month range.

 

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Bob and his knowledge and team for helping to create an amazing PV carport for us. I’m sure you would be delighted with whatever you engage him to help you with.

Dev & Sue Malik

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