The Votes Are In- It’s Back to the State Level for Cleantech

 In Cleantech

If you’re reading this post, you probably already know clean technology products and services represent an immense and growing market. Some see least a $10 billion of market opportunity in 2010, growing to almost $80 billion in 2020. But with the recent loss of many supporters of climate change and the Waxmen-Markey bill voted out of Congress during the recent election, some might be finding it difficult to see where cleantech goes next.

This change of elected officials on Capital Hill this month, particularly in the House, will likely jeopardize the federal funding that’s helped fund solar, wind and other alternative energy projects across the country.  As the next two years of a Republican-controlled House play out, the cleantech industry may find itself leaning more on individual states to pick up the federal slack.

While for some a scattered execution of growing the American green economy is less than ideal, it’s really on the state level where green economic incentives start and have the most impact.  While every state has some type of clean energy policy (see map), Massachusetts and California are leading examples. Out of a list of 15 identified clean energy policies, 22 states have 11 or more in place, with California leading the pack. In fact some would argue companies are relocating to California because of its favorable cleantech policies. To stay competitive, states will find themselves adopting clean energy policies similar to California’s and claim their share of the green economy’s benefits.

Some may say that investment needs predictability, the kind federal policy can provide.  I say if you look at the states, that predictability is already here.  In the near future, states will begin reaping the benefits of the groundwork they have laid with their cleantech policies. Green collar jobs will increase and local regions will begin to enjoy some economic growth.

The green sector may have two years to wait out this Republican-lead Congress. In the meantime, it should redouble its efforts to increase cleantech policies at the state and local level.  By building these groundswells locally and demonstrating that clean technology is the way of the future, eventually, federal politicians will find cleantech policies impossible to ignore if they want to remain in office.