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We must make new products or improve existing technology March 16, 2009

Posted by Laura Arnold in Uncategorized.
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GUEST EDITORIAL

There has been a great deal of talk about what we need to get the economy moving in Indiana and across the country. Getting angry at Wall Street or politicians will not work, and neither will asking for more bailouts or hand outs.

Workers and businesses in Indiana, and across the country, need opportunity. If we have the chance, there is no doubt in my mind that we can overcome any challenge confronting our economy.

But what will that opportunity be? First, it is to not repeat the past. Making products that can be made cheaper overseas is not how to revive our economy. Second, it is not going to be government busy work where we pay people to dig and refill holes.

No, if we want to compete and succeed in these tough times we must either make new products or improve existing technology, and do it better than the rest of the world.

Fortunately, what many are calling the “clean energy economy” gives us the chance to do all of those things. This term means any job involved in manufacturing, distributing, and installing products and technology that cut energy consumption. This would include renewable energy like wind power and efforts to make technology more energy efficient.

According to a report by CleanEdge Incorporated, clean and renewable energy is expected to grow to over $250 billion by 2017. Although our economy has been slumping, since 2006 investments in energy technology have gone up 60 percent.

With this kind of growth expected, Indiana has a great opportunity to make renewable energy a significant part of its economy and help create jobs across the state. Right now my business in St. John makes solar-powered attic fans and we know that as demand for cleaner energy rises our company will only grow.

In addition to their growth potential, another advantage is that these are not jobs that can be easily outsourced to China and India. Because of the limits on energy storage and transport capabilities, companies gain no advantage in harnessing solar or wind energy in foreign countries and selling it to America. In fact, moving the energy generated from overseas will end up costing more than locating a plant in the U.S.

But how do we jump start this new clean energy economy?

Most economic analysts and scientists agree that the best way to attack this is by putting a cap on carbon pollution, which causes climate change. Carbon pollution comes from the burning of fossil fuels like oil and natural gas, so by cutting carbon levels you give companies the incentive to produce new cleaner sources of energy.

In addition to encouraging economic growth in new industries, capping carbon emissions will also cut pollution levels and help move our economy away from relying on oil, most of which comes from unstable areas like the Middle East.

Things are very hard for workers and business across Indiana, but unless we get serious about developing new sectors of the economy things will become much worse. Taking advantage of the opportunity to cut pollution and create cleaner energy sounds like best way to move forward.

Hopefully our leaders in Congress agree.

Bill Keith
SunRise Solar Inc.
St. John, Ind.

Bill Keith, President of SunRise Solar is a Founding member of the Indiana Renewable Energy Association.

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