Adapt or fail. That's what I learned at the U.S. Air Force Academy and in my six years of active duty military service. Today, as a proud member of the U.S. energy industry, I also know that it’s a lesson that applies to our national energy policy more than ever.
Three weeks ago, a murderous dictator invaded a sovereign democracy, and the world changed forever. Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands, displaced millions, and once again shown us the terrible costs of our economy being overly reliant on fossil fuels. When our system allows the actions of a Russian tyrant to have a profound and immediate impact on Coloradans’ ability to get to work and heat their homes, then that system is broken. This vulnerability is exactly why we need to quickly accelerate America’s transition to a clean energy economy.
Crisis can change your thinking. I grew up in New Jersey. My hometown was devastated by Superstorm Sandy. I saw firsthand how massive energy infrastructure failures were, in many cases, worse than the storm itself.
That experience changed things for me. I realized the U.S. needed a more resilient energy system, and my focus shifted to figuring out how to build such a system. Perhaps the most surprising thing I’ve learned in the decade since is that building a clean, resilient, secure, and affordable energy system that benefits all Americans actually isn’t that hard.
The technology is ready. In 2021, clean energy resources represented over 80% of new capacity additions to the U.S. electric grid primarily because investors across all asset classes understand that renewable energy is the cheapest and most efficient way to power the modern world. In fact, the overwhelming majority of energy industry experts that I’ve met with tell me: A global transition to clean energy isn’t only possible, it’s inevitable.
From a national security perspective, however, our primary problem is timing. At our current pace, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels to an acceptable level will take decades, during which time petrostate authoritarians like Vladimir Putin will continue to have an outsized global influence that threatens the lives and livelihoods of Americans and our allies.
This is why we need Congress to act now. Late last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to provide $555 billion in funding to accelerate the transition to a cleaner, more resilient, more secure, and more affordable energy system. If enacted, this legislation would not only quickly and drastically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, it would also save the average American household over $500 energy costs annually, create millions of high paying jobs, strengthen our supply chains, and ease inflationary pressure. In short, even prior to the invasion of Ukraine, passing this $555B energy package should have been a no-brainer.
Today, as we continue to watch this horrific situation unfold, passing this legislation has become a moral imperative. The U.S. can and must adapt its energy future. We can and must stop subsidizing authoritarians like Putin with our fossil fuel dependence. We can and must harden our grid with sustainable, resilient, American-made clean energy. We can and must adapt — or we will fail.
Tim Hade is a co-founder and chief operating officer at Scale Microgrid Solutions, where he focuses on developing sustainable distributed generation solutions. Tim served on Active Duty as an officer in the United States Air Force, and he holds an MBA from Stanford University and a B.S. from the United States Air Force Academy.