Clinton Announces Presidential Campaign, Solar Industry Hopeful

[This post was originally published on http://www.ussolarinstitute.com and featured on http://www.renewableenergyworld.com.]

In a move that surprised very few, if any, Hilary Rodham Clinton officially announced that she is running for President this past Sunday. The announcement was made with a short video, featuring clips of a wide range of Americans, all “getting ready” for different projects, from starting a family business, to having a child, to re-entering the workforce after raising children. It is clear that one of Clinton’s main messages is that she is fighting for the “everyman”, the diverse community that makes America the country that it is.

Where does renewable energy fit into Clinton’s politics?

A bi-partisan analysis of renewable energy shows that solar is  good for Americans, including each and every one of the diverse personas featured in Clinton’s campaign announcement. A quick look at some of Clinton’s political history seems to indicate that she agrees.

In 2005, during her time as a New York Senator, Clinton introduced “Energy Independence 2020”, featuring the Strategic Energy Fund. This bill highlighted and praised solar and wind technology, while placing heavy requirements on traditional power companies to diversify their energy sources, moving away from fossil fuels.

It is also clear that Clinton considers America’s dependence on traditional energy sources to be a matter of national security. In press releases announcing her strategic energy plan back in 2005, Clinton stated: “We have a big decision to make. We have two paths we can pursue. We can continue to allow our energy needs to hamstring our national security. We can continue to watch as the impacts of global warming mount. We can sit back and wait for the terrible potential of a terrorist attack to hit a pipeline, to hit a terminal, wreaking havoc on the economy and increasing energy costs for families and businesses. Or we can choose a different, better path based on performance and the facts – not partisanship and ideology. We can choose a path based on a long-term strategy to secure our economy, to free our hand to protect our security, and to keep faith with our values.” In 2007, Clinton also co-sponsored a bi-partisan endorsement “25×25”, a goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025.

But that was several years ago. Does she still feel the same way?

Last time around, in the Democratic primaries, Clinton made it clear that she saw renewable energy as a source of new local jobs. (Democratic debate transcript is available here) If her initial campaign announcement is any indication, it would appear that supporting the local, American economy through the creation of sustainable jobs is certainly something that Clinton will still be in support of. The proven growth and success of the renewable energy job market is exponentially stronger today than it was last election cycle, so it would make sense that Clinton would continue to support the development of green collar jobs.

The fact that Hillary and Bill Clinton are somewhat of package deal should not be dismissed either, at least when it comes to shared ideologies and initiatives that they have worked on together through avenues such as the Clinton Foundation. In 2012, Former President Bill Clinton spoke at Solar Power International, encouraging solar companies to keep fighting the good fight for renewable energy in America. “You are going to win this battle,” he said.  “The question is when and where and how.”

The Clinton Foundation has been a supporter of solar for several years. One of their larger projects has focused on investing in green energy solutions for Haiti. The Clinton Climate Initiative, a Clinton Foundation program, is also in partnerships with 25 small island nation governments to help build and develop renewable energy systems. The Clinton Foundation also has an Energy Efficiency Program, focused on reducing emissions and encouraging energy efficient building designs.

Hillary Clinton is also an outspoken advocate for reversing climate change. This past December, she was the keynote speaker at the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) annual dinner and spoke about the continued importance of political action that will help protect the environment and encourage the development of renewable energy sources, as opposed to fossil fuels. The entire whole keynote can be viewed here.

LCV clearly thinks that Clinton has a track record of supporting renewable energy. They publish the National Environmental Scorecard, tracking politicians’ voting records on environmental issues, and Clinton ranks very high with an 82%. This high score is in stark contrast to the other candidates. Senator Marco Rubio out of Florida comes in at 9%, as does Senator Rand Paul out of Kentucky. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has a slightly higher score at 11%. Of course, it remains to be seen who the final candidates for presidency will be. The New York Times has built an interactive election guide to help us all keep track.

Now that Clinton has officially thrown her hat in the presidential ring, there is a long road ahead of her. Platforms will be clarified, debates had, statements released, and speeches delivered. Given the recent explosion of solar jobs, the increase of installations across the country, and recent political action initiatives in many states, it is clear that renewable energy, specifically solar, should, and likely will, be an important element of Clinton’s campaign. Exactly what that looks like remains to be seen, but many in the solar industry are optimistic that not only will solar seen as be a continued talking point, but also as a serious policy issue for this country.

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