Clean energy investors are unruffled by the Trump Administration stuffing Environmental Protection Agency advisory boards with oil-industry advocates. Momentum is on their side, as the move to renewables accelerates.
The EPA replaced scientists on panels with people linked to the fossil-fuel industry, further evidence that the “Trump administration rigged influential advisory boards to favor its polluter backers,” U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said in a statement. If the intent was to stymie the advance of renewables it failed.
The U.S. generated more electricity from renewables than coal for the first time in April, according to the Energy Information Administration. The upward trajectory of clean energy shows no sign of slowing, because it’s not just good for the environment, it’s also profitable.
“The continuing strength of renewables is mostly a function of market forces and economics,” said Murray Rosenblith, an advisor at New Alternatives Fund, which calls itself the oldest mutual fund focused on renewable energy. “What government says and does is increasingly irrelevant.”
President Trump has ridiculed clean industry, saying about wind power at a March rally that if it “doesn’t blow, you can forget about television for that night.” The administration has also sought to slash the budget of the U.S. Energy Department division charged with renewable energy and energy efficiency research.
Utilities don’t seem to share his low opinion of wind power. Two subsidiaries of American Electric Power announced plans on July 15 to make a $2 billion purchase of three wind projects, totaling almost 1.5 megawatts.
“We’re seeing a renewables surge across the country, even despite the Trump administration’s best efforts to hamper progress,” said Samantha Willams,” director, Midwest region, of the Climate & Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Fund. “This year renewables surpassed coal generation for the first time in the nation’s history, which isn’t surprising given that new wind and solar are now the cheapest form of power. “
Building new wind and solar capacity would be cheaper than running about 74% of existing U.S. coal plants, providing immediate savings to customers, Energy Innovation and Vibrant Clean Energy said in a March study. The number grows to 86% in 2025.
“Economics are the fundamental force driving the growth of clean energy,” Rosenblith said. “It could do better with government support, but growth will continue.”
- Karma Takeaway: While the Trump administration has taken actions favoring fossil fuel industries, the impact on the growth of renewables has been negligible. The increasing competitiveness of clean energy makes it a tempting sector for ethical investors.