February 2, 2010
If you live in the suburbs of the metropolitan New York area and have driven by a movie theatre lately, you’ve probably noticed fewer and fewer billboards listing movie times. In fact, many movie billboards have been taken down and replaced with scrolling electronic ticker signs above and inside the entrance. This trend is less due to theatres wanting to reduce their carbon footprint and more to the ongoing evolution of how consumers consume content. (Ask yourself this: when you went the movies last week, did you scroll through the local paper or search online? I thought not).
So what does this mean to the renewable energy industry? At first glance, not much, but if you look a little closer, at least to me, it’s another indication that things are always changing, whether you notice it or not.
Think about the current legislative debate on clean energy. For all the hoopla made over the Copenhagen summit last year, it’s taken a back seat as Congress tackles health care, jobs, and other issues deemed “more urgent.” Trying to be an mainstream thinker, I check my political views at the door, but to ignore the multitude of issues at play in the renewable energy space is at best short sighted and at worst ignorant. Put more simply, it just isn’t cutting it.
Yet while Congress takes their time down in DC, we’re already seeing individual states taking action and making progress. My home state of New Jersey (any Garden Staters out there?) has quietly built up the second highest number of solar installations in the U.S. Guess who is first? California, and even a third grader knows how much bigger CA is. Moving further inland, while most chatter about Wisconsin may focus on Brett Favre and his retirement plans (flip a coin already, Brett), lawmakers in that state are in the midst of launching a major climate initiative this year, as noted on www.ClimateWire.com and the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2010/01/20/20climatewire-wis-opens-decades-first-new-climate-efforts-24644.html. And this is just scratching the surface in terms of how state governments are making changes independent of D.C.
As for me, I’m very happy to see local and state governments taking the lead on issues in the clean energy space. Change can only come from within, and hopefully Congress will take notice and open up the floor to potential legislation again. But until then, keep an eye on individual states, and hopefully, we don’t need 3D glasses to see this show.
That’s it for me. I’m off to see Avatar and then wait for the Super Bowl—and the new commercials.