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Trump made a great decision!

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Trump made a great decision!

Trump backed out of the Paris Agreement and the media had a frenzy. In an instant, voices around the globe united to rally against the apathetic message that this decision could signal. Within hours, his supporters also took to social media to express their loyal support for the verbalized America first commitment. Great social media debates ensued and of course, the Trump name was once again in every other conversation. Another brilliant communication and marketing execution by the Trump team.

You see, another title complaining about Trump's decision would not have gotten your attention and he gets that. One of the most valuable assets in today's economy is someone's attention, and shock is an incredibly effective tool that helps us capture just that, making us turn our heads or click on a link.

So he made a great decision, for Trump. Shocker. To clarify, and I know this might infuriate some of you in both sides of the political spectrum, I'm not pro or anti-Trump. I mean, sure like other Americans there are things that I agree and things that I disagree with as it relates to his claimed stance at any given moment on any given issue. As we dig into how this announcement will really affect global efforts towards improving our energy infrastructure, however, I think we will find this just might be one of those rare political win-win scenarios.

As Jigar Shah, co-founder of Generate Capital, recently said on the Energy Gang podcast, "the Paris Agreement lacked teeth". Symbolically it is a great step in the right direction but lots of the promises made were little more than just that, symbolic. In a similar way, Americans lack teeth quite a bit right now as it relates to tackling the huge energy problem we have in our hands. It seems like on one end you have an America that mentally fights a shifting energy economy because of their perceived loss: Jobs in disappearing industries and fear of selling out to something that seems like such a Democrat thing to stand behind, and on the other extreme, you have the America of the far left: They are supposed to support the Paris Agreement, after all, they stand for progress. They march. They post. But what percentage of that America was sincerely paying attention to whether or not we were doing what we said we would in the Paris Agreement before the announcement?

Whether we like it or not, it's shocking events like an American president backing out of a global commitment that brings the added awareness necessary to issues that we need to take action on. The reality is Trump's actual actions are unlikely to have changed as a result of that announcement. Whatever end of the bargain he and his team were planning to adhere to, they still will adhere to, and whatever they weren't planning on honoring, still won't be honored. With a little more information, however, we as humans get to make a new personal decision.

It matters not that you are Republican or Democrat. It matters that you have enough sense to know that our country's current energy infrastructure is broken. Think about it, you are paying too much for power that sometimes you don't even really enjoy the convenience of. You are likely to live in a home structure that probably consumes 30% more energy than it should, not because of you taking a nice long well-deserved bath after work every night but because the home is poorly constructed and energy inefficient. Talk about a first world problem worth actually tackling. You are paying a utility company mostly to make your living environment more comfortable, and because of those inefficiencies in your home, that money is going out of the window, or attic, or getting wasted through a poor appliance setup. It's like burning dollar bills that you get no benefit from every day. I don't know a person on either political side that likes the sound of that.

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Then you have the growing number of jobs in renewable energy. Solar energy jobs are growing at a rate 12 times faster than the US Economy. Globally, and this is before you take into account energy efficiency, renewable energy is responsible for over 8 Million jobs. The industry is booming and some of our older ways of generating power are becoming less and less relevant not just because of the environmental consequences but simply because it's becoming cheaper and cheaper to produce energy in a clean way. In an area like Western Massachusetts, the utility company will charge you .22cents per kWh and a solar company will charge you around .13 cents per kWh. If you are able to outright buy your system, after your panels are paid (Payback period typically averages 8 years or less if you finance the system), then you won't have pay for the energy your panels produce anymore. Now that's a decision that requires little more than good old common sense.

The energy transition that we are experiencing and what it represents for our economy, the money it saves us as we strive to make every dollar count, the jobs it creates, the entrepreneurial opportunities; Renewable energy is as American as America gets. This is no longer a political issue. It's an unstoppable shift and before we know it every home in America will upgrade to the utmost levels of efficiency, smart energy, and renewable energy production. It won't make sense not to. It took the cell phone industry a couple of decades but it's hard to find a young person today with a land line.

This won't be the last time Trump takes over the global news through doing something that shocks people enough to pay attention. You can count on that. You can count on that as much as you can count on a clean energy future. How fast that future arrives? Well, that part is less about the hype and more about how fast you influence it to arrive not through your attention but through your choices and actions.

Julio Daniel Hernandez
EnLight.Energy

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