Renewable energy is a California success story
In 2011, Solyndra, a California-based solar panel manufacturer, defaulted on a $535-million federal loan and went bankrupt. Critics argued that this proved renewable energy was hopelessly impractical and expensive and that federal and state policies to support it were a waste of taxpayer money. Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by the Koch brothers, spent $6 million on an ad campaign highlighting the company as a symbol of failure. Even the venerable “60 Minutes” got into the fray, reporting there was a “cleantech crash.” California, in particular, was singled out for ridicule. Pundits warned that strong support for renewable energy would bring down our economy.
But four years later, the real story is that the focus on the demise of a single company obscured the emergence of a thriving industry. Renewable energy has grown so rapidly that, in 2014, it accounted for most new electric generation capacity added nationwide. California leads the pack with the share of electricity from renewable sources, more than doubling from 12% in 2008 to 25% today. In that period, private companies invested more than $20 billion in new renewable power plants here. California is home to the largest geothermal, wind, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic power plants in the world.