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Creating a New Energy Strategy
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ONC Editorial

Aug 02, 2023

A five-point plan to effectively shift to renewable energy sources. (The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author, whose information can be found below.)

Big Picture:

Eventually, renewable energy will replace fossil fuels. America desperately needs an energy strategy that considers the future. This proposal shifts the nation’s energy production in a strategic manner while maintaining economic prosperity and refusing to needlessly expand the federal government.

Operative Definitions:

  1. Universal Solar Tax Credit Program: This federal tax credit encourages solar energy installation in the United States and can save 26 percent on installation costs.
  2. Renewable Resources: Ways to generate energy from unlimited natural resources, which are either always available or replenish more quickly than the rate at which they are consumed.
  3. Electrical Grid: An interconnected network for delivering electricity from producers to consumers.

Important Facts and Statistics: 

  1. Due to growing initiatives that prioritize the environment, renewable energy currently creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels.
  2. Most solar panel models operate between 22 and 27 percent efficiency. However, concerns over electrical energy conversion efficiency can be relaxed, as there is enough sunlight that falls on the earth in just one hour to meet global energy demands for a whole year.
  3. Switching to an electric vehicle can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by up to 50 percent.

Five-Point Plan:

(1) Extend the universal solar tax credit program. Individuals will receive a 26 percent credit, and community projects will get a 26 to 30 percent credit based on the scope and efficiency of the project.

(2) Link electrical grids more efficiently. Form state advisory boards to help regional utilities link networks; for every $1 invested, $2.50 is gained. America’s current grids only connect citizens to the nearest power plant.

(3) Implement a carbon tax that is financially self-sustaining and revenue-neutral. Repay all total income back to tax paying citizens in the form of equal quarterly payments to avoid causing hardship to working class families and lowering living standards. Rather than expanding the government, our strategy would fund the development of low-carbon technology by utilizing the free market and influencing the private sector’s significant assets for innovation and investment.

(4) Coordinate with state and city governments to transition public transit bus fleets to be completely electric by 2040. This will greatly reduce emissions and public transportation costs. Additionally, doing so will have a larger impact on cities with high pollution. The broader transportation sector accounts for 40 percent of carbon emissions and 80 to 90 percent of smog-forming pollutants. This initiative would be funded through federal grant money to the states.

(5) Bring jobs back to America with renewable energy. Invest $5 billion to replace manufacturing plants with domestic solar panel plants. This will lower the price of solar energy, which is often raised by import taxes, as well as create a new demand for American labor.

Why This Initiative Is Important: 

Fossil fuels contribute to climate change, pollution and poor air quality. Renewables will improve our overall quality of life. This initiative will decrease the cost of renewable energy, making it a feasible and financially-sustainable long-term solution. This plan will increase innovation of experimental technologies. Additionally, installing solar and wind resources, along with other more reliable technologies, will provide millions of new jobs for Americans.

Economic Impact (From Our Student Economist Team): 

Universal solar energy tax credits and renewable energy investment would cost the federal government $25 billion annually. Converting all public buses to electric would cost state and local governments $65 billion. A national unified power grid could save consumers $47 billion per year. Deploying more renewable energy will fuel economic growth through employment opportunities, human welfare and a more sustainable future.

Acknowledgements:

The following student(s) worked on this nonpartisan proposal: Regina Arroyo-Soto, University of Houston; Aiden Merrill-Skoloff, Skidmore College; Armin Jorgenson, University of California, San Diego; Claire Dormitzer, University of Maryland, College Park; Benjamin Morris, Harvard University.

The following individuals worked with our student interns and contributed expertise, wisdom and moral support in the development of this proposal:

  1. Bob Inglis, Former U.S. Representative, South Carolina; Executive Director, RepublicEn.org. Travelers Rest, SC.
  2. Charles Hernick, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions. Annapolis, MD.
  3. Colin Murphy, Deputy Director, University of California, Davis, Policy Institute. Davis, CA.

Note: Not all participants necessarily agree with every aspect of this proposal.

Sources:

“About ACEG.” Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, http://cleanenergygrid.org/about/. Accessed 2 August 2023.

“Alternative Fuels Data Center.” Alternative Fuels Data Center, http://afdc.energy.gov/data/10567. Accessed 2 August 2023.

“Guide to Solar Energy Grants | LetsGoSolar.com.” Lets Go Solar, http://www.letsgosolar.com/solar-panels/financing/grants/. Accessed 2 August 2023.

Manwaring, Michael. “2018 Pumped Storage Report.” National Hydropower Association, https://www.hydro.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/2018-NHA-Pumped-Storage-Report.pdf. Accessed 2 August 2023.

Shao, Vic. “Where 2030 might take electric bus fleets - Zero Emissions - Metro Magazine.” METRO Magazine, 20 April 2020, https://www.metro-magazine.com/10111986/where-2030-might-take-electric-bus-fleets. Accessed 2 August 2023.

Shultz, George P. “Opinion | George P. Shultz and Ted Halstead: Carbon pricing is the winning Republican climate answer.” The Washington Post, 16 January 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-winning-republican-climate-solution-carbon-pricing/2020/01/16/d6921dc0-387b-11ea-bf30-ad313e4ec754_story.html. Accessed 2 August 2023.

“Solar tax credits could be extended with COVID relief bill.” IndyStar, 31 December 2020, https://www.indystar.com/story/news/environment/2020/12/21/solar-tax-credits-could-extended-covid-relief-bill/3926609001/. Accessed 2 August 2023.

The Power of Renewables Opportunities and Challenges for China and the United States. National Academies Press, 2010. pp. 152-174. Accessed 2 August 2023.

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