“The power platform today is where the knowledge platform was in 1993.”
2paragraphs: While running the FCC you were key in introducing innovative spectrum auctions.* This produced both revenue for the government and increased access to mobile communications that has benefited society. Is there an equivalent innovation that could mean a similar win-win in clean energy?
Reed Hundt: In the early 1990s, the Federal Communications Commission introduced spectrum auctions, producing both revenue for the government and spurring innovation in the knowledge platform. The power platform today is where the knowledge platform was in 1993. From approximately that date, digitization, regulatory reform, and low cost capital changed the platform for all modes of information consumption in less than a decade. Now the power platform begs to be rebuilt quickly, producing cheap, clean, abundant energy instead of expensive, polluting, and inefficiently consumed power. As was the case for the knowledge platform in the 1990s, if the Obama Administration can irrevocably cause America to move to the new power platform, it will revel in full employment, take satisfaction in reduced inequality in wealth and income, brag on a rapidly declining deficit, and achieve surpassing glory.
Several financial innovations can help accelerate this move to the new power platform, bringing with them the private sector and everyday consumers. Government should lead the charge by establishing state green banks, quasi-public entities that provide low cost loans–repaid over time–to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. These green banks should provide long term, low interest financing support to clean energy and efficiency suppliers; customers should pay over long time periods either on electricity bills or on mortgages. No consumer should have to pay up front for solar on roof or insulation under roof or any other clean energy solution. As was the case for the FCC in the 1990s, everyone should get a deal they just cannot turn down.
Written by Reed Hundt, former chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission (1993 to 1997, appointed by President Bill Clinton). At the FCC, he oversaw the introduction of spectrum auctions and the implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 designed to substantially reduce the rates for international telecommunications service. Hundt is currently the CEO of the Coalition for Green Capital, a non-profit advocacy coalition of businesses, investors and attorneys. He is also the author of the new e-book, Zero Hour: Time to Build the Clean Power Platform.