What if we could rewire America, combat climate change, create millions of new jobs, all while saving everyone money and without changing our lifestyles?
“A lot of technology is ready to go,” Sam Calisch, Ph.D. recently told The Solar Podcast. “It’s here, it’s a matter of political will,” says the research scientist and co-author of several landmark studies and reports for RewiringAmerica.org. Listen to the full interview here
“The main goal is to reframe the (climate change) conversation around policy – from being about pain and sacrifice to being about massive opportunity,” he explains, focusing on electrification as a “no regrets pathway forward.” Working with Rewiring America co-founders Saul Griffith and Alex Laskey, Sam adds to the analytical framework they’re using for data-driven visions of opportunities for electrification.
“There are lots of things left to figure out about this transition, but very few of them that should impact what we do right now,” says Sam. “We have a clear path forward towards cutting carbon, and cutting down costs. We should be implementing it as fast as we can, electrifying all users of energy in the economy. And so when I say no regrets, it’s like no miracle new technologies like fusion are required.” But if one does come along, he adds, “it’s not like we’ve wasted any effort here. All these things are compatible.”
We’re on a mission to Rewire America, but we need your help to get there.
By presenting a data-driven framework for the energy transition, the organization works to identify the barriers we need to overcome. Longer term, their goals are to build a movement, a coalition around electrification, and to help people make the transition.
Envisioned, for instance, is coordinating networks of installers and other clean energy professionals. “Groups of people willing to show up to city council meetings to weigh in on building codes that might enable more residential solar. Getting homeowners and renters who can share their experiences in their local circumstances . . .”
Specifically on electric vehicles (EVs): While he is energized (pun intended) that “people now believe we’re going to be in an extremely high adoption scenario of EVs,” he quickly reminds us of the difference between adoption and penetration. “I think all of the buzz is great, but I think we really have to remember that even when we get up to Norway’s 70 percent new vehicle adoption rate, it’s still going to take us 12 to 15 years for those cars to move into our economy. So even though it feels exciting, we’ve got to keep our foot on the gas,” so to speak.
What has already come out of the Rewiring America work?
Major reports center around the things they are most asked about: jobs and retraining, personal household savings, and the financing that will make it all possible.
“What will happen to jobs and household economics? What if people make this electrification transition – what will it mean for their energy bills?” The news is good in both regards, according to Sam, “but it’s not without challenges and a lot of work that needs to be done.”
If the U.S. made a wholesale commitment towards electrification, “that would create about 25 million good paying American jobs over the next 15 years to transition, and about 5 million sustained jobs over the baseline today. That’s a huge number,” he adds.
Listen to the full interview at Solar Podcast, where Sam Calisch goes into specific details on jobs and presents a compelling, comprehensive picture on household savings. Sponsored by Continental Energy Solutions.
Go to RewiringAmerica.org for more information about how to get involved, including signing up to volunteer.