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Going, Going ...

Clean energy jobs will be gone soon, if America fails to commit.

Fortnightly Magazine - December 2011

America needs an energy policy today that will bring together our best and brightest, harness the limitless capabilities of our research institutions, and invest whatever it takes to ensure America’s leadership in clean energy technologies. The result will be to create billion-dollar industries and millions of new jobs.

The 14 million Americans unemployed and 8.8 million under-employed feel left out of the American dream. The almost limitless opportunities available to the post-World War II generation simply aren’t there today. But there are opportunities. They might require re-training or relocating; and they might provide less pay or benefits. But, for sure, opportunities exist. But—and equally for sure—the people seeking those opportunities require help.

What better way to help them than by taking advantage of opportunities to create new energy jobs?

In the 2011 World Energy Outlook , the International Energy Agency estimates that between 2011 and 2035, roughly $38 trillion in energy infrastructure will be required to meet global demand. 1 Investments in the power sector alone will equal roughly $16.9 trillion to maintain current supply levels. 2

Surely President Obama and Congress can develop a bipartisan plan leveraging both government spending and private investment for home-grown energy solutions that heads America down an R&D path that eventually will produce more job-creating clean energy technologies. It’s fundamental that America must remain the land of innovation and opportunity when it comes to clean energy. But we can’t wait until new clean energy technologies arrive at our shores; we also can’t postpone domestic development, production, or manufacture of the entire spectrum of America’s energy resources.

America needs an energy policy today that will bring together our best and brightest, harness the limitless capabilities of our research institutions, and invest whatever it takes. The result will be the creation of billion-dollar industries, new technologies with applications heretofore unimaginable, and—critically important in today’s fragile economy—a million-plus new jobs.

Falling Short of Independence

Seven U.S. presidents have signed energy legislation to foster energy efficiencies, conservation, and, ultimately, energy independence. In 1946, President Truman signed the first Atomic Energy Act, 3 creating the Atomic Energy Commission. Then President Eisenhower signed the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, 4 opening the way for civilian nuclear power and the world’s first nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pa., in 1957. In 1973, President Nixon launched Project Independence with the goal of achieving energy independence by 1980. 5 In 1975, President Ford moved the date for achieving energy independence to 1985 and signed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, 6 mandating vehicle fuel economy standards and authorizing the creation of a strategic petroleum reserve. President Carter’s 1978 National Energy Act 7 was designed to reduce the use of fuels by industry; in

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