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Cleantech Leaders: U.S. is ‘Rejoining the World’ with Biden Administration

Jan. 21, 2021
The U.S. is heading into a new era of renewable energy investment and climate change action according to speakers at the Clean Energy for America Inaugural Ball, a virtual event hosted by Clean Energy for Biden.

The United States is heading into a new era of renewable energy investment and climate change action according to speakers at the Clean Energy for America Inaugural Ball, a virtual event hosted by Clean Energy for Biden.

The event, which celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, included speakers included members of Congress, mayors, musicians, venture capitalists, actors, environmental activists and more.

CE4B is a network of clean economy business leaders and advocates organized to elect Joe Biden as president and advance policies, technologies and investment to address climate change. 

By the time the event kicked off Wednesday evening, Biden had already worked on 17 executive orders, many of which were directives on COVID-19, but also included a reversal of the US’ departure from the Paris climate accord — a move applauded by several speakers.

Ex-Gov. of Michigan and soon-to-be Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm appeared with White House National Climate Advisor and former EPA head Gina McCarthy to applaud the decision to re-enter the Paris climate accord, which was signed by more than 200 nations.

“I’m excited about this new position because President Biden and Vice President Harris understand that clean energy is our future,” McCarthy said, referring to the newly created Cabinet-level position she is entering. “This administration will invest in people again. We will work around the clock with the full power of the federal government and all its agencies to deliver the future our kids deserve.”

Granholm referred to her time as governor of Michigan in her remarks; a time when the automobile industry was going bankrupt.

“I am not in favor of ceding territory to our economic rivals around the world. Instead of building electric vehicles and renewable energy technology in China or Europe, we should be building it right here at home,” Granholm said.

Granholm also named Michael Regan, Biden’s pick to lead the EPA, as another member of a great team that she looks forward to working with.

Senator Raphael Warnock, who, along with fellow Georgian Jon Ossof, were officially sworn in Wednesday, handing control of the Senate to the Democratic Party, also addressed attendees, saying environmental justice and racial justice go hand in hand.

“I often say to folks in the civil rights movement that they need to talk more about climate change, and I say to folks in the environmentalist movement that they need to talk more about civil rights. What could be a more fundamental civil right than clean air?” Warnock asked.

Warnock added that while climate change affects everyone, there are communities that are disproportionately impacted by pollution that originates from power plants and motor vehicles.

Don Cheadle, actor and board member of grassroots climate change group The Solutions Project, said the Biden Administration now has a mandate for meaningful change from millions of voters.

“Voters showed up in record numbers. That includes people who never voted before in their lives, people who never believed they could make a difference,” Cheadle said. “We have an opportunity now and we have to hold our leadership to account. We can do it, but we have to do it together.”

Pop Singer-Songwriter Billie Eilish congratulated Biden and Harris on their win, adding that they now need to deliver on their promises of environmental justice.

“We have elected an administration that believes in science,” Eilish said. “I want to thank everyone who voted for change in this election. We all know we are far from finished. We have to keep fighting for policies that make a difference.”

Representative Paul Tonko of New York, who is chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on the Environment and Climate Change, said rejoining the Paris accord will show the US is ready to base its policies on science and fact.

“I just love the fact we are setting the tone and embracing the truth of climate change,” Tonko said. “This is the start of a new era for science-based discussion and policy development. We have a need to catch up for the many years we have missed, but this is about opportunity, safer communities and opportunities to grow jobs.”

Abby Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said this will be an exciting time for clean energy.

“We need stable tax and trade policy, expedited permitting and more than anything a holistic approach to solving the environmental crisis, our racial justice crisis and our economic crisis,” Hopper said.

Dan Kammen, professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley, said he looks forward to more executive orders coming out of the White House in the coming days.

“America is re-entering the world stage,” Kammen said, adding that the Biden administration will invest in communities of color and create jobs as well as racial justice.

Rep. Mike Levin of California said better days will soon be here for the U.S.

“It’s imperative we take bold action on climate change and build a clean energy future and I have no doubt that under the Biden-Harris administration we will make great strides. Together we will grow the clean energy jobs of the future and protect our planet at the same time,” Levin said.

Andy Klump, CEO and founder of solar energy plus storage firm Clean Energy Associates, says this will be a period of increased investment in renewable energy and energy storage technology.

“We’re excited to grow jobs in this country thanks to President Biden’s executive orders and his continued support. We think we can more than double our team in the next two years and there are other entrepreneurs working to help drive the US economy with clean energy,” Klump said. “We’ve been hiring during Covid and we’ve been hiring during Trump, but we are really looking forward to taking it to the next level with the Biden administration.”

Jon Powers, co-founder and president of CleanCapital, an owner and operator of more than 100 renewable energy projects, said the renewable sector will create jobs as well as investment opportunities.

“Biden has shown leadership already with his more than 200 climate officials that his transition team has named to posts in places like the EPA, the DOE and more,” Powers said. “This will be critical for righting the ship from the previous administration and getting us moving forward.”

Katie Mehnert of ALLY Energy said big opportunities lie ahead for clean energy technology under the new administration.

“This was an amazing day. I’m super excited to see women breaking the glass ceiling in the highest office. It’s a great example to show the world that we are back in the environmental conversation,” Mehnert said. “There are huge opportunities for cleantech in the next four years. Coming off this pandemic, we have strong headwinds now.”

Eric White, CEO at Dividend Finance said the renewable energy sector will reap new opportunities with the new Congress and White House sworn in.

“The common theme we are hearing in the media coverage so far is we are taking on multiple crises at once. We can use renewable energy as a flywheel to restart the economy and reunite a fractured nation. Renewable energy should be a nonpartisan solution and can solve multiple problems at once,” White said.

About the Author

Jeff Postelwait | Senior Editor

Jeff Postelwait is a writer and editor with a background in newspapers and online editing who has been writing about the electric utility industry since 2008. Jeff is senior editor for T&D World magazine and sits on the advisory board of the T&D World Conference and Exhibition. Utility Products, Power Engineering, Powergrid International and Electric Light & Power are some of the other publications in which Jeff's work has been featured. Jeff received his degree in journalism news editing from Oklahoma State University and currently operates out of Oregon.

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