My Energy Finance Essay


I just whipped up this essay a couple nights ago for an Energy Finance fellowship for which I applied. It's long and dense, so take a bite, digest what you can.

The essay prompt was rather open-ended, which was fun in terms of throwing in my opinion (God knows I've got lots stored up).

It was was kind of enjoyable pondering over the prompt, as I've been more on the "Got an idea? Write up a plan, gather what you need, and do it" side of eco-consciousness, as oppose to the technical, bureaucratic side. Hopefully my essay expresses my optimism for a more energy conscious American society.

There's something about the Golden Gate. 
Is it because it pushed the boundaries? Challenged, at the time, new technologies?                                           
Prompt: In your opinion, what is a government's ability to transform the energy sector? 

The U.S. federal government has the power and the wherewithal to transform the energy sector into a more efficient and environmentally friendly sector. To accomplish this, strong leadership and the presentation of a clear and sound energy policy must be presented to the nation, and reinforced by a sense of commitment to the policy, by our leaders. There are no magic bullets or a new mysterious formula on the horizon, which will transform our current energy sector. The answers are well known to all.

The government’s ability to effect change is clearly related to how unified and committed is the leadership. Leadership is not limited to the President; it includes Congressional leaders and key leaders throughout the country, including state level leaders. This unified force is critical as there will be diverse and powerful opposing forces reflecting industry, employment, and regional interests all led by the many lobbyists in Washington. Transforming the energy sector is equivalent to undertaking a revolution. To accomplish the objectives, political, industrial and social policies must be changed to build the infrastructure for implementing the transformation.

Once a unified leadership has been achieved, it will then call for a clear and forceful presentation of the proposals which should focus on meeting the future needs of the nation, and offer major benefits to the environment— regionally, nationally and global. The leaders must go out to the nation and personally present the proposed policies to the local level. A groundswell of popular support must be developed to help overcome the inevitable opposition to the proposed changes.

An aggressive presentation of the president’s clean-energy goals, reasons for it, and planned efforts towards getting the nation behind these goals are necessary for the successful transformation. Every new challenging and innovative endeavor requires forceful leadership to achieve the goals. To substantially increase and develop the use of clean energy, there must be a strong, and clear articulation of principle and goals, and how they will benefit individuals and the nation. The President, Congress, and state leaders must demonstrate that clean-energy is part of the core values of the leaders of this country. Clearly, achieving goals will be difficult and will take much time and negotiations.

There will be tremendous opposition from those who believe their self-interests will be negatively impacted by clean energy initiatives. The groups most vulnerable to the initiatives will be the most intransigent. The coal industry and gasoline refiners will be among the leaders of the opposition.  Many, if not all of the coal mining dependent states, will be part of that opposition.

In view of the anticipated opposition, much preparation and negotiations between the Executive branch and the Legislative branch of government are required. This process will probably take years and involve various levels of government. Additionally, the opposition and their surrogates in Washington will certainly seek out roles in this process. In the end, this process will call for a highly respected leader to motivate other leaders in Washington to accept key principles, and then to “educate” the population towards accepting the mandate.

President Obama, reiterated his clean-energy goals and plans in his January 25, 2011 State Of The Union address. Through Obama’s emphasis on American innovation and his encouragement of increased investment, he prompted Americans to invest in clean energy such as solar panel research and clean nuclear power plants. Obama goes as far as to that the level of investment and innovation he is targeting requires “passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.”

Additionally, in countering clean-energy opposition leaders and their theories, in his speech, Obama acknowledged that there have been questions as to whether the U.S. can afford such changes in a tough economy, and that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change, but that “providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future.”
The impact of Obama’s clear and firm plans for clean-energy technologies, and the resulting benefit he anticipates, sets the tone for leaders across the nation. Obama’s plans can translate to directing our nation’s researchers, investors, political leaders, and businesses owners to undertake clean-energy endeavors. With focused follow-up in Congress, perhaps the members of Congress will sense Obama’s energy-focused plans and initiatives, prompting them to vote in favor of new clean-energy bills. His speech is the first step of a very long journey.

The President and members of Congress will need to travel to various sectors to solicit support for his policies. He will need to elicit support at state levels and show how the benefits reach their level in many tangible manners. In the recent State Of The Union address, Obama cited results of last year’s investment in clean energy in North Carolina and California. He makes reference to a North Carolina based company creating 1,200 jobs nationwide in producing advanced batteries, and the California based company who will employ 1,000 people to build solar panels. These examples address the wallets of many people who are concerned over current conditions in the economy. It also illustrates the need to have states actively lead in the transformation process. In some instances they may be ahead of the Federal government. Indeed, in many cases, California has been ahead of the Federal government for a number of years in encouraging energy-efficient businesses and initiatives. The leadership of the Federal government can learn much from California. 

The goal of transforming the nation’s energy sector requires a herculean effort by the political leaders of our country. It will require discussions and negotiations at various levels. It will take years to prepare, and years to implement. It will require changes in our thinking, our behavior and in adopting new values. Sacrifices will be called for, and the benefits will be for us, and future generations. As a nation, we have the capacity to make the changes. However, the capacity of the government to implement the transformation will call for extraordinary courage and the foresight to see beyond the horizon. If the government is committed and is prepared to make the necessary actions and sacrifices, then the potential is there and success can be achieved.


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