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Guest Blog: Clean Energy – The Key to Energy Independence

by Stephanie Kline, Operation Free Member & United States Marine Corps Veteran

Now that both political party conventions are over and our country is shifting into full election season, it’s important to reflect upon the values we share in common—our freedom and independence chief among them. These ideals often invoke cheers for our troops for the sacrifices they make. While certainly not an incorrect response, as a Marine veteran, I often find it feels incomplete.

The military community is looking for more than applause from our fellow citizens and pandering from political hopefuls. We need citizen partners who actively advocate for policies that support our military, strengthen our nation, and create real jobs for us as we transition out of the service.  

Policies that support clean energy accomplish all of these. Clean energy enables our military to conduct combat operations without being tethered to volatile fossil fuels that are often sourced from hostile states. Military leaders routinely tout the importance of clean energy for combat missions—it enables forces to accomplish more mission per gallon with reduced risk of fuel convoy-related casualties. It helps domestic military bases save money, which can then be used for other critical needs. And it is produced here at home and creates tens of thousands of jobs for everyone, including veterans.

Vets are joining the renewable energy industry in large numbers every year. The solar industry alone employs around 17,000 veterans and is poised to bring on many more. Many states are embracing the opportunity to develop a clean, independent, and home-grown energy supply that provides jobs to its citizens. Nevada was once one of those states leading the nation in renewable job creation, but that was dramatically impacted this past winter.

The Silver State hosts several military bases and facilities, which means a lot of veterans live in the state—roughly 8 percent of the total population. It is an ideal location for solar and solar-related jobs, particularly for veterans. Solar makes great sense for businesses, military bases, and Nevada’s residents, including my own family.

Unfortunately, the recent Public Utility Commission's ruling to roll back the economic incentives for residential solar reduces both job opportunities and the ability of the state to become more energy independent. It sends a strong message to veterans interested in the solar industry that Nevada may not be the right state for them. The ruling also directly impacts my family members’ opportunities to make their own energy choices. Nevada’s citizens deserve better. My family deserves better.

The Nevada PUC got it wrong, but this is an opportunity for the state’s citizens, legislature, and governor to step up and support energy freedom. Using clean energy saves money, frees us from dependence on oil both at home and abroad, and provides jobs for veterans. It’s a simple, powerful, and cost-effective way to support the troops every day. 

 

Stephanie Kline is an Operation Free Veteran and manages solar workforce development programs for transitioning military service members. 

Operation Free is a nationwide coalition of veterans and national security experts working to secure America with clean energy. Operation Free is a campaign of the Truman National Security Project and Center for National Policy.

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