Green energy producers hopeful
Swaths of virgin desert in the U.S. West in recent years have transformed into solar farms, a trend green energy supporters predict will persist even with the election of a president who is making fossil fuel-friendly Cabinet appointments and promises to bring back coal.
With the support of Congress, the renewable-energy industry has enjoyed a tax credit-buoyed building boom under President Barack Obama, who has aggressively pushed to slash greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal and other fossil fuels.
Electricity generated by solar panels and windmills has played a bigger role in the energy mix in recent years as the federal government and states seek to reduce heat-trapping gases through ambitious climate goals.
And, despite President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to revitalize the coal industry and “put our miners back to work,” renewable developers are hopeful about their future.
“We’re looking forward to competing with other energy sources as a low-cost option,” said Tom Kimbis, interim president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group.
There’s the economic reality: Coal plants have shuttered in recent years as utilities favor cheaper, natural gas extracted from shale-rich places such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia using the controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing. The plummeting cost of solar panels and wind turbines also has added to coal’s woes.