The clean energy economy has seen robust growth in recent decades and now presents the opportunity for widespread wealth creation that benefits American small businesses, their workers, and consumers, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development (“Committee”) noted during July 2021, adding to its analysis that America’s clean energy economy has the potential to create millions of good-paying jobs spread across tens of thousands of businesses like OceanBased Perpetual Energy, while simultaneously lowering energy prices for consumers.
To review the possibilities and examine challenges, the Committee will hold a hybrid hearing entitled “Wealth for the Working Class: The Clean Energy Economy” at 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. The hearing will focus on workforce development initiatives in the clean energy economy, discuss Congressional proposals on clean energy, and explore the potential for the growth this industry could unleash.
To view the livestream for this hearing, click here: https://smallbusiness.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=3855
Ms. Leticia Colon De Mejias
Chief Executive Officer of Energy Efficiencies Solutions and Co-chair for the Building
Energy Efficiencies Solutions
Mr. James Hasselbeck, Director of Operations
ReVision Energy, Inc.
South Portland, ME
Mr. Samuel Gilchrist, Western Campaigns Director
Natural Resources Defense Council
Mr. Tom Greer, Proprietor and Owner
Hub City Brewing Co.
*Testifying on behalf of the Consumer Energy Alliance
What is the Role of the U.S. Small Business Administration in Fighting Climate Change?
On January 21, 2021, Committee Chairman Dean Phillips (D-MN) held a hearing examining the role of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and small firms in fighting climate change. In 2021, historic floods, record temperatures, and blazing wildfires have wreaked havoc on communities, posing a significant threat to small businesses nationwide.
“Investing in energy infrastructure improvements or preparing your business for future weather events can be costly endeavors, that’s why the SBA’s programs must ensure they are setup to help small businesses confronting the reality of the climate crisis,” said Chairman Phillips. “Climate change is a historic crisis, but one that presents numerous opportunities. By crafting programs that provide proper support for small businesses as they adapt and innovate, we can help protect our planet and lay the groundwork for many small businesses to thrive.”
According to experts, climate change has the potential to cost the U.S. up to 10.5 percent of its GDP by 2100. With small firms making up 99 percent of all businesses and a large portion of the renewable energy sector, they will play a substantial role in America’s transition to a green economy and the fight against climate change. Thus, addressing climate change through green energy can benefit small businesses, their employees, and the economy as a whole.
During the hearing, members questioned small business owners and experts on the significant threats and opportunities that climate change poses for small firms. Lawmakers also surveyed ways SBA can increase capital access to support small businesses to adapt, innovate, and thrive as the climate changes.
“Like manufacturing, green energy projects and materials are capital intensive, and borrowers often come to us for both real estate, real estate enhancement, and equipment needs. At one time, a CDC could split project costs into two loans for a borrower to finance projects in manufacturing and other capital-intensive fields,” said Laurel Walk, Chief Lending Officer at Colorado Lending Source, Ltd. In Denver, Colorado. “SBA is no longer allowing this practice and as real estate and construction costs continue to rise or even maintain current levels, there will be a greater need for businesses trying to scale and grow.”
“The climate is changing for the worse, and marine businesses need bolstered resilience to support the historic growth in demand for recreation opportunities and keep the boating economy churning,” said Rick Chapman, General Manager and Certified Marina Manager (CMM) of The Port of Sunnyside Club, Inc. in Stillwater, MN. “With rising construction costs and increasing severity and frequency of natural disasters, small businesses in particular need support so they can invest in cost-saving mitigation activities to fortify themselves against the impacts of climate change.”
“Small businesses comprise more than 99 percent of U.S. companies and employ 47.5 percent of American private-sector workers. In the energy efficiency, renewable energy, and natural gas sectors, small businesses employ an estimated 70 percent of workers,” said Dr. Lynn Abramson, President of the Clean Energy Business Network. “Both as energy consumers and providers, these small firms are a critical player in our nation’s response to climate change.”
Statement of the Honorable Dean Phillips on SBA’s Role in Climate Solutions
Chairman Phillips issued this statement on the July 21, 2021 hearing:
“The coronavirus pandemic may have been the most severe and widespread shock to the global economy in recent history. It was a harsh reminder of the economic and social injury that come with being unprepared. The impact to small businesses in the U.S. has been especially damaging. In an effort to quickly address the crisis, Congress established emergency relief programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, which has provided more than $798 billion in economic aid to 8.5 million small businesses and nonprofits across the country.
“Throughout the pandemic, we experienced the heartbreaking human cost of a slow, uncoordinated response and our businesses are still battling the economic consequences. I look forward to this Subcommittee holding a future hearing on the challenges that inflation, competition, and labor shortages pose to small businesses, but today I want to turn our attention to how the lessons of the coronavirus can help inform our response to the looming crisis of our rapidly evolving climate.
“Scientists and experts have long warned of the devastation of a pandemic-scale climate crisis, but recently those predictions have transformed into devastating realities. Today, historic droughts, rising sea levels, and other extreme weather events pose a significant risk to life as we know it.
“In the same way that we could not have imagined how the pandemic would alter our lives and livelihoods, we can hardly anticipate the challenges that await us if our conservation and sustainability efforts remain unrealized.
“With small firms accounting for 99 percent of all businesses, they will substantially contribute to the fight against climate change. Businesses, governments, and individuals have a vital role to play as we work to manage disruption risk, invest in more resilient infrastructure, reduce our carbon footprint and build a green economy.
“While short-term economic challenges, such as unemployment, supply chain management, and shipping delays are important outstanding matters, global environmental threats only stand to worsen these issues in the long-term and the fact of the matter is we must be solving for both.
“This will present monumental challenges but also immense opportunities. By innovating to go green, small businesses can help create new industries and good-paying jobs as part of the clean energy economy.
“The clean energy economy already covers many industries that are dominated by small businesses. For example, the construction, manufacturing, and renewable energy sectors all have a high percentage of small firms.
“In 2020, renewable energy provided 21% of energy consumption in the US, and fossil fuel consumption hit its lowest level since 1991. As the federal government prioritizes combatting climate change, the renewable sector will continue to grow. As the adoption of wind, solar, and other renewable energy systems increase, small business owners stand to benefit.
“Going green also presents many benefits for small businesses on a micro-level. Green energy is often the cheapest way to power a business and switching to renewables can often boost an entrepreneur’s bottom line.
“Small business owners who save money through energy efficiency improvements can reallocate it to capital expenditures to make their enterprise more competitive and profitable.
“Renewable investment can uplift the American economy as a whole. Seizing on the opportunities the green economy creates can help revitalize America’s energy production, manufacturing, and position America as a clean energy leader.
“These benefits make it plain that the federal government must offer adequate incentives for businesses to go green.
“The SBA has a clear role in supporting the small businesses that want to make the transition to renewables. The agency already has several programs that supply small firms with capital to undergo business improvements, purchase assets, and rebuild after a disaster.
“It’s vital that we take a close look at these programs and find ways to optimize them to serve businesses that want to switch to renewables or make other climate-related decisions. Investing in energy infrastructure improvements or preparing your business for future weather events can be costly endeavors, that’s why the SBA’s programs must ensure they are setup to help small businesses confronting the reality of the climate crisis.
“By crafting programs that understand the level of vulnerability small firms face, we can better prepare for future environmental threats to our nation, its economy, and the health of our fellow citizens. I hope this hearing will enable us to increase the resilience of small businesses that were strongly affected by the pandemic and continue to need our support in these endeavors.”