Will Solar Impact the Election Year?

Written by -Gordon Goodgame III

Although the American public is often seen at odds during election years, this one may be different. In recent Gallup polls, the vast majority of Americans are unified on advancing the amount of solar energy produced in the U.S. With an astounding 91% of respondents knowing that solar energy needs more, or the same emphasis, that it is currently receiving by the government. With numbers like these, a candidate’s stance on solar could drastically affect their vote count.

This election year has the potential to create a solar boom. By mixing a high public approval rate of solar with a candidate who is in favor of the progression of renewable energy, the American people could be looking at the perfect storm of subsidies and the initiative to grow.

We have no way of knowing the future of the industry, however we can draw predictions based on current candidates stances on renewable energy. By looking at quotes from each candidate, alongside statements on their campaign sites, we are able to obtain a general idea of their stances. It is important to note that a candidate’s promises can be halted in the legislative, or may never be acted on by the candidate to begin with.

Hillary Clinton (D) the past first lady, secretary of state, and senator has promised to increase the development of solar in two parts. The first being the addition of more than 500 million solar panels installed across the united states. The second being, that the United States will generate enough clean renewable energy to power every home in America within ten years of Hillary Clinton taking office. However she did vote against the SAFE Act, which increased funding for renewable energy in low-income neighborhoods. As well as, supporting solar development on tribal lands, reforming fuel emission standards, creating a national greenhouse gas database, and allotting fifteen billion dollars in tax incentives to fuel production and conservation.

Donald Trump (R), the billionaire entrepreneur, has made very few statements on the development of solar. He has stated that he is “fine” with tax credits for renewable energy. However when he was asked about his stance on solar, he has made a few misinformed claims. Such as, dismissing it as an unproven technology and claiming that, “Solar, as you know, hasn’t caught on because, I mean, a solar panel takes 32 years — it’s a 32-year payback. Who wants a 32-year payback? The fact is, the technology is not there yet.”

Jill Stein (Green), the physician and politician, is the strongest supporter of renewable energy. She would like to have the entire country run off of renewable energy by 2030. She has stated that, “Renewable energy is win-win for economy & national security.” She has called for the immediate halt of all new fossil fuel exploration. As well as a national ban on fracking, the reduction of logging, and a state’s option to rule in favor or against nuclear energy.

Gary Johnson (Libertarian), the two term governor of New Mexico, seems to be in favor of renewable energy. Gov. Johnson believes in federal tax incentives on renewable energy, with the state decisions. He is a strong proponent of the free market. He has been quoted saying, “the beauty of energy efficiency is that it needs no directive from a government central planner, because energy efficiency is cost efficiency, and Americans already have an incentive to cut costs.” He is against ethanol subsidies. He believes that, “A clean and safe environment is critical to us and to future generations.”

This support of renewable energy development by the democratic party could be the deciding factor for many moderate and independent voters. Seeing as such a large percentage of the population are in favor of increased solar development. Could the idea of clean energy be enough to change minds in this confusing election year? All that is known is that a continued show of interest by the people could be more than enough to help push the next president to revolutionize the industry and the country.


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