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Clean Energy Solutions in the Trump Era


Clean Energy Solutions in the Trump Era


By Stacey Meinzen, Center for Climate Protection

Many of us have sunk into a collective depression reading the past months’ national news. Donald Trump’s attack on climate science – including a witch hunt in the Department of Energy for climate scientists and threats to end NASA’s mission to study planet earth – seems aimed at suppressing evidence of climate change. Trump’s cabinet appointments are equally appalling.

While a feeling of powerlessness and despair is a natural response to recent climate news, there are reasons to have hope. Trump’s best efforts to stop climate protection and the shift toward renewables may fail. World leaders have pledged to move forward with the Paris Accord, no matter what the U.S. does. A new report from the Department of Energy reveals just how much the cost of renewables has dropped in the last eight years (up to 94 percent, according to the Department of Energy), eroding the fossil fuel industry’s cost advantage. Many fossil fuel projects are delayed or cancelled because of the competitive price of renewables, as well as public opposition. And California’s climate leadership in the world’s fifth largest economy will continue to be a powerful force. 

Although these trends are hopeful, the U.S. government will be solidly controlled by fossil fuel interests. Even if Trump does not manage to resurrect coal, expanding oil pipelines and drilling will be top priorities for his administration. He has made no secret of this. 

So what should we do? Should we become intensely political? Should we march in protests? Should we petition on Facebook? 

Participation in the political process is important, but not enough. We have all received emails that implore us to, “Stop the _____!” They quickly become exhausting and they don’t give us a vision of a bright future. They usually only define the future we DON’T want.

Striking the right balance between resistance to what we don’t want and building what we do is challenging. It requires building on the positive trends mentioned above. We can take advantage of falling renewable energy prices to swiftly go solar and electric. We can support efforts to divest from fossil fuels, including rewarding businesses that divest. Perhaps most importantly, we can work to spread clean energy solutions we have seen work right here in Sonoma County. 

So how do we spread clean energy solutions? The Center for Climate Protection is reaching out to communities throughout California and sharing how our local renewable energy provider, Sonoma Clean Power, has benefitted us – from saving customers more than $62 million on energy bills to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electricity by 48%. Sonoma Clean Power has shown that Community Choice Energy can create a LOCAL renewable energy system for great LOCAL economic benefits. 

Clean energy that delivers local economic gains is universally appealing. (Did I mention that it’s local?) In fact, so far Community Choice Energy has spread to over 300 cities in California.

World leaders, including those in California are stepping up and leading powerfully – and so can we. Community Choice Energy has the potential to unravel the fossil fuel industry while simultaneously building a whole new renewable energy system that benefits local communities. It’s up to use to share this model with other communities. It’s akin to sharing hope and everyone can use more of that.

To learn more about Community Choice Energy and other programs of the Center for Climate Protection, visit or attend one of our monthly Climate Conversations at our office (next one is January 18th). Email for more information.