The pandemic and its cascading negative impact on our economies and people has created a new opportunity to build new and better infrastructure, promote innovation, and create good jobs for Americans everywhere. That is the promise at the heart of the President BidenJoe Biden’s Rise in Vaccinations Includes Biggest Republican Gain Since April: Gallup Power Grab? The Federal Reserve could soon be our only Ford bank asking employees about vaccination status MOREBuild Back Better Budget is being considered by Congress – a historic opportunity to set our economy on the path to greater prosperity for all while supporting and accelerating the transition to 100 percent clean energy.
States like Georgia, Minnesota, and Virginia are already showing what is possible. These states use energy efficiency and clean energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enable family-friendly careers for their workers, and save money for consumers. The Build Back Better agenda will accelerate such achievements and open up new opportunities for Americans everywhere.
Georgia, for example, is leading the way in ensuring that affordable housing is also performing and healthy in order to keep bills down, reduce the energy burden on residents, and ensure that the housing stock is truly accessible to all residents. This is thanks in part to the low-income residential real estate tax credit program administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Affordable housing developments can receive tax credits through green building certification such as EarthCraft certification (developed by the Southface Institute and others). Compliance with these standards contributes to living stability and justice and helps to keep energy, water and health costs low by promoting a healthy indoor climate and at the same time reducing energy pollution. Additional government investment through Build Back Better would fund parallel programs that achieve the same critical impact on a much larger scale and ensure a healthy and efficient environment for all Georgians inside and outside their homes.
Minnesota has also seen bipartisan success in taking steps to improve energy efficiency. This year, the country’s only split legislature updated existing energy-saving legislation by passing a landmark bill that creates more options for utility companies to help commercial and residential customers save energy and money. The move will allocate an additional millions of dollars to weathering homes, especially low-income households, resulting in greater savings and more job creation. This upgrade to a program that has already brought the state $ 6 billion in net benefits, thousands of well-paying jobs, and a return on investment of nearly 4 to 1 will be a turning point for thousands of Minnesota families.
Despite this success, there is still untapped potential in Minnesota. The private sector, unions, and a strong not-for-profit network are identifying new areas that are ripe for investment, such as expanding the electric vehicle charging network in Minnesota. the Minnesota would receive $ 68 million from the federal government in the bipartisan infrastructure bill would go a long way towards creating a strong charging network for the first Midwestern state to introduce clean car standards.
Energy efficiency is not the only area where states are showing what is possible. Last year, Virginia passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), making it the first state in the south to introduce a 100 percent clean energy standard. The measure requires utility companies to shut down environmentally harmful power plants and replace them with renewable energies, energy efficiency and storage.
The VCEA sets binding energy efficiency targets and one of the largest energy storage targets in the country – creating market security and saving families and companies money. the current job report from Advanced Energy Economy shows the economic advantages of the VCEA. As of late 2020, Virginia’s advanced power industry employed over 93,000 people. Thanks in part to guidelines like the VCEA, clean energy business leaders surveyed for the report expect Virginia jobs to grow 8 percent this year.
When fully implemented, the VCEA will create up to 13,000 Virginia jobs annually, generate millions of investments in clean energy, and help the state transition to an affordable, reliable, and 100 percent clean power grid. The Build Back Better budget will accelerate and expand the change promised by the VCEA.
America is at a crossroads. At the interface between crisis and opportunity, we are faced with a choice. Individual states have shown us what is possible, but ultimately we have to choose as a nation: do we accept the future and take control of all the possibilities that lie ahead, or do we sit on our hands and let circumstances dictate the world who do we leave us children? The Build Back Better agenda is a path to a safer, more prosperous place for all Americans.
Gregg Mast is the executive director of Clean Energy Economy Minnesota.
Shane Totten is the vice president of programs, strategy, and impact at the Southface Institute in Georgia.
Harry Godfrey is the executive director of Virginia Advanced Energy Economy.