Two Governors, Amazon Consultant, Foundation Leader Tell Local Chambers the Economic Outlook for Clean Energy is Strong

The transition to the clean energy economy is happening now. States are making it happen. Local communities are making it happen. And corporations are making it happen.

This was the message on last week’s special briefing call for local chambers from guest speakers Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI); former Governor Bill Ritter Jr. (D-CO); Rich Powell, Executive Director of the ClearPath Foundation; and Theresa Kostzrewa, Consultant for Amazon.

“We had strong bipartisan support [for Michigan’s recent landmark clean energy legislation],” said Gov. Snyder, “because it was based on good science, good economics, and good substance as opposed to the winds of Washington.”

Today’s clean energy transition “is not being driven by mandates. It’s being driven by the market,” said former Gov. Bill Ritter, Executive Director of the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University.

“Renewable energy,” said Theresa Kostzrewa, Consultant for Amazon and Founder of Capital Advantage, “is going to continue growing. It’s not going to stop or slow down.” One reason is that many corporations are demanding it. “It’s not just the Amazons and Googles and Facebooks,” she said. “It’s Smithfield Foods, the largest pork procurers in the world. It’s everybody.” 

Continue reading for more highlights from the call that attracted nearly 90 local chambers of commerce and member businesses from across the nation. The briefing was co-hosted by the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, and Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy.

Read: A Who's Who of Chamber Members... Who Are the Top Clean Energy Users.

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Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI):

  • “We had strong bipartisan support [for Michigan’s clean energy legislation] because it was based on good science, good economics, and good substance as opposed to the winds of Washington.”
  • “When the Trump Administration came in and went the other way [on renewable energy], we said we are not changing course because we have good, smart policy.”
  • “Our utilities were supportive and understood that coal’s days were numbered and that the faster they could make a transition in a smart way, it’s good for them.”
  • “I think we’re well positioned for the future. I’m very proud of what we’ve done.”
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The Honorable Bill Ritter, former Governor of Colorado (D), Director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University:

  • “If you read only about Congress, you would assume there is nothing but [clean energy] rollbacks being done in Washington, D.C.
  • “Nothing can be further from the truth because of the activity that is happening with states, local governments, and corporations.”
  • “The cost of natural gas is making coal less attractive. And with the cost of renewable energy coming down we are seeing that coal plants are being replaced by renewables; and I think we will see that continuing as we go forward.”
  • “This is not being driven by mandates. It’s being driven by the market.”
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Rich Powell, Executive Director of the ClearPath Foundation

  • “I joined a [U.S.] Chamber Foundation debate recently. In the past, it might have been between someone for and someone against clean energy. Now we were debating what is the right way to transition the economy to cleaner sources of energy.”
  • “Mary Barra, CEO of GM, just spoke today in front of a largely oil and gas crowd about electric vehicles and how the future for GM’s fleet will be a gas-free future.”
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Theresa Kostzrewa, Consultant for Amazon and Founder of Capital Advantage

  • “Corporations are demanding renewable energy to power their operations. It’s not just the Amazons and Googles and Facebooks. It’s Smithfield Foods, the largest pork procurers in the world. It’s everybody.”  
  • “Eighty-six percent of millennials want renewable energy.”
  • “If elected officials want their communities to be attractive [to corporations, millennials, and others] over the next 20 or 30 years, they need to provide access to renewable energy or be left behind.”
  • “Renewable energy is going to continue growing. It’s not going to stop or slow down.”
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Kent Wood, Director of Government Relations for TraverseConnect and the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance

  •  “Our members understand the value and economic benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency.”
  • “And we actively supported Governor Snyder’s efforts to have more renewable energy and more energy efficiency.”
  • “At our chamber, we created an energy efficiency loan program for our members that helped dozens of them save money through energy upgrades.”
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Steve Clark, President and CEO of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce

  • “We settled on renewable energy as an important part of who and what we are because we think talent and a sense of place are two critical ingredients in economic development; and talent wants to be a part of a renewable energy community.”
  • “Fayetteville became the 54th city to commit to 100 percent renewable energy and the first in the state of Arkansas.”
  • “Our largest employer, Walmart … and all employers are looking to us to grow our community with renewables.”