Mar 3, 2017 - Economy

Renewable energy matters more in Trumpland than you might think

Trump has criticized wind-power, cast doubts on solar power's cost effectiveness, and promised on the campaign trail he would bring back coal jobs. But Trump is unlikely to touch the tax credits that subsidize investments and production in solar and wind power. Here's why that makes sense:

States politically important to Trump support renewables jobs: Republican states that led to Trump's 2016 win support hundreds of thousands of jobs in the renewable energy industry, and for the most part, states that Trump narrowly won have a higher percentage of energy jobs that are renewable-energy jobs than safe Republican states. (And generally among Democratic states, the higher the percentage of energy jobs that are renewable energy jobs, the stronger the margins for Democratic candidates.)

The number of these jobs is increasing: Although the interactive is a snapshot in time using the DOE data, solar employment has been growing by 20% annually since 2010, and wind power employment was up 32% in 2016 from the previous year, according to the Department of Energy.

Congressional backing, too: The Republican-controlled Congress voted in 2015 to extend renewable energy tax incentives — and it passed with a majority in both the House and the Senate with bipartisan support. Iowa Republican Charles Grassley said of Trump and the incentives: "If he wants to do away with it, he'll have to get a bill through Congress, and he'll do it over my dead body."

A note on methodology: Solar and wind generation jobs include jobs involved in manufacturing, construction, and utilities. The total energy jobs we compared that to includes generation jobs (manufacturing, construction, and utilities), extraction jobs, and transmission, distribution, and storage jobs.

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