In true bipartisan fashion, Tennessee Business Leaders for a Clean Energy Economy recently visited U.S. senators to talk about the benefits of passing climate and energy leg­islation to support Tennessee’s clean energy economy

Cortney_PiperIn true bipartisan fashion, Tennessee Business Leaders for a Clean Energy Economy recently visited our U.S. senators to talk about the benefits of passing climate and energy leg­islation to support Tennessee’s clean energy economy — because good jobs and clean energy are not partisan issues.

Representatives from Alstom, Hemlock Semi-Conductor/Dow Corning, Signal Energy; Energy,Susan_Ruchardson_WilliamsTechnology and Environmental Business Association and the vice chairman of the Chattanooga Green Committee were all united in their message to our senators: Pass cli­mate and energy legislation that puts a price on carbon and gives the industry market cer­tainty to unleash investments, innovation and jobs.

All agreed that with out a comprehensive energy policy, investments will be lost to China and Germany, countries that have already estab­lished market certainty for clean technologies.

All agreed the time to act is now. With climate and energy legislation they can create new jobs and increase investments in Tennessee and the U.S. With out it, those jobs and investments go over seas. America’s 21st cen tury, clean-energy businesses, like the ones we took to Washington, D.C., have a message you don’t hear too often these days: We’re hiring.

Investors are Waiting
The way we see it, however, the current-day U.S. economy is like a baseball team with a roster full of top-notch players, but a coaching staff that refuses to field a full team. Until the U.S. Senate acts by passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation, America’s tal­ented team of workers and innovators can’t win the global competition game as often or as quickly as we’d like.

Large-scale investors are ready to put their money into the clean-energy game, like Alstom and Hemlock. But first they need to know clean energy’s costs rela­tive to fossil fuels.

As the catastrophic event in the Gulf Coast reminds us, there are hidden costs to our depen­dence on old-school energy sources. And many investors won’t unleash their cash until those fuels are fairly priced. Once markets start to factor in the true cost of carbon, clean energy will become an even more attractive investment. But until the U.S. gets clear about carbon pricing, these investors will stay on the sidelines.

Existing technology is also sitting on the bench. From energy-efficient windows and lighting to advanced wind, solar, and geothermal technologies, we have an array of American technolo­gies, goods, and services ready for prime time. The American businesses that manufacture, market, distribute, and provide these goods and services are ready to expand when our coun­try is ready to buy.

The clean technology industry is booming in Tennessee. Pew Charitable Trusts says we have the third-fastest growing clean-energy economy and major investments from Hemlock, Confluence Solar, Nissan, Volkswagen, Wacker and Sharp Solar show we are in a position to gain more.

We need Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker to work with us to further support Ten­nessee jobs and investments in the clean-energy economy, and we encourage them to do so.

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Source: The Tennessean
Photos: The Tennessean
Caption: Cortney Piper and Susan Richardson Williams co-founded The Tennessee Business Lead ers for a Clean Energy Economy, an informal network of businesses and business lead ers, spanning a wide spectrum of industry and commerce. The network supports a transi tion to a low carbon clean energy economy in Tennessee and nationally; www.tncleaneconomy.com.