Renewables is Key for America's (And Your) Energy Future

By - Alex Hay
15.08.22 02:15 PM

New Energy Policy Means More Equity for Everyone

America has been powered by fossil fuels on a large scale since the modern grid was born. In 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA), which established the current grid as we know it. This grid was powered by coal and gas, and truly helped to shape America. The access to reliable energy is one of the most important developments in our society that got us where we are today. Since the 1930’s, America has seen prosperity due to the utility companies who thrived under this legislation, and fossil fuel companies have been right there along with them. The federal government ensured that businesses in the energy industry experienced healthy profits with support that led to affordable energy for Americans everywhere. However, the policies around energy over the years haven’t changed much. When they have, the changes mainly furthered the system that has worked for America for decades. We’ve taken the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. 

Utility companies have enjoyed large, guaranteed profits through regulated monopoly ownership of “the grid”, which refers to the network of utility lines and generation plants that power our homes and businesses. The impact that coal, oil, and natural gas have had on American life can not be overstated. America’s prosperity was fueled by these resources but we are long overdue for change. Our dependency on fossil fuels has led to incredibly high subsidies, our communities being covered in coal ash and leaking chemicals, and unpredictable supply chain issues driving up costs. Fossil fuel companies had an average profit margin of over 31% in Q4 of 2021, and the fossil fuel industry will receive billions in direct and indirect subsidies over the next 10 years. And now, our energy bills are getting out of control. Under the guise of inflation and through loopholes in energy policy, utility companies and fossil fuel companies have seen record profits. Meanwhile, the average American is paying more for home electricity each month. Costs going up make sense, there are true supply chain shocks caused by COVID shut downs and war overseas, but there is something inherently wrong about companies also making record profits during this time. 

What are we as Americans to do? Our policy has been stacked against us, and we are dependent on fossil fuels. We need to be bold like we were decades ago when we first built our grid. We are long overdue for a new policy. We need to invest in a grid that has more equitable ownership of assets. We need to be incentivizing renewable energy programs, both on a national scale and at the local level. This transition to a green economy will be hard, and will cost everyone. However, we know the money to pay for it is already here! It is tied up in the profits of companies who control all the assets. This transition is complex, and will take years to do on a national scale. However, there is something the average homeowner can do, right now today, that will increase their ability to be self-reliant. Installing solar on your home will immediately cut down your dependency on fossil fuels, and will give you control over your own energy generating assets. Stop investing your money in these utility and fossil fuel companies by buying from them, seeing no return and increasing prices. Instead, fix your cost for energy, and invest in your most valuable asset: your home. Over the past decade, the cost of residential solar has dropped over 60%. It is now affordable for anyone who owns a home to help with this transition, one property at a time. Say “yes” to energy independence and a more fair, equitable energy future. Say “no” to fossil fuel dependency and an unbalanced system that favors a small number of monopolies.