Marlin Steel was recently featured in a Voice of America video that discussed the challenge of creating jobs while fighting climate change. In the video, VOA correspondent Steve Baragona talks about President Obama’s initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the measures that many are taking to meet the new standards.
As energy providers in numerous states scramble to meet the new carbon emission targets, many critics of the initiative are warning of potential economic disaster for the American economy.
While the video asserts that “it’s complicated, but the worst-case scenario have not happened,” there is a real risk of damage to American businesses and job growth if energy costs go up. Energy costs are particularly important to manufacturers, as energy is one of the largest expenses on the budget next to employee wages.
As such, many manufacturers are already on the lookout for ways to use energy more efficiently and reduce their overall use.
The Trouble with Increasing Energy Costs
One of the carbon emission solutions discussed in the video is to charge energy providers a fee for exceeding their carbon emission limits. This would incentivize the development and deployment of cleaner energy solutions to reduce CO2 emissions.
However, cost of paying for carbon emissions isn’t shouldered by the energy company alone. When the cost of providing power increases, the energy companies will pass the burden down to their customers: homeowners and businesses.
This, in turn, may incentivize homeowners to start investing in more energy-efficient technologies as well. In fact, the scramble to make homes more energy-efficient by improving insulation and other systems may be responsible for much of the economic growth in states implementing clean power initiatives. Partway through the video, VOA interviews an insulation installer noting a big boom in the sale of energy efficiency tech in homes.
The problem is that even after installing improved insulation, there’s only so much that businesses can do to reduce their energy use. Increased energy costs go straight to a manufacturer’s budget, and higher costs will constrict job growth as manufacturers will have less room in the budget for employing new workers.
Keeping Energy Use Down
One example of how manufacturers can reduce their energy spend is by installing more efficient lighting systems in the factory. As seen in the video, Marlin Steel is already taking bids to replace all of the lights in the factory with more efficient LED lights that will significantly reduce the power needed to illuminate factory workspaces.
For many manufacturers, finding ways to make more efficient use of electricity is a major concern, and often the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while growing jobs.
Many of the sustainability improvements that manufacturers make internally can help reduce costs and give them more room to grow. But, if the price of energy goes up sharply, these measures will become necessary for mere survival, rather than for enabling growth.
At the very least, increasing energy costs will slow the growth of jobs for manufacturers, even if the shortfall may be temporarily alleviated by growth in the energy efficiency industry as homeowners and business desperately scramble to cut energy use.
Reducing pollution is necessary for the future of our planet. However, changes should be made in a way that will allow businesses to continue to fuel growth and jobs. Internal efficiency improvements, such as using more efficient robot control algorithms or low-wattage light sources, can help reduce our nation’s energy use while helping reduce costs for manufacturers rather than driving them up.