Congressional leadership announced a $2 trillion economic stimulus package as part of its response to the COVID-19 crisis on March 25.

Following is a statement from Bob Keefe, executive director of the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs):

“Congress threw a critical lifeline to America’s workers that will help struggling families pay their bills and make badly needed loans available for businesses to stay afloat and protect jobs.

“Now attention must turn to repowering America’s economy. And if federal and state lawmakers want to get America back to work, one of the most proven ways is with policies that expand America’s fastest-growing job sector — clean energy — and support the nearly 3.4 million workers employed in every state and county across the country.”

During the 2009 economic meltdown, the $90 billion invested in clean energy through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) sent jobs in the industry soaring from a few hundred thousand to 3.4 million at the start of 2020; helped lead to a tripling of solar and wind energy; provided seed capital for companies like Tesla; and broadened the economic recovery as it saved consumers and businesses billions of dollars through energy efficiency programs It also helped reduce carbon emissions and improve our environment.

Unfortunately, the clean energy economy and workers have already been badly hit across the country by the COVID disaster. E2 members reflect on some of that impact:

“We were having our best year on record when this happened. We had spent over $880,000 on materials from China that have been stuck overseas due to factory shutdowns, and we are really feeling the pain. Now they are closing schools and we are losing staff due to self-quarantine. I suspect it is only going to get worse.”

— Troy Van Beek, co-founder of solar company Ideal Energy near Des Moines, Iowa

“We have 300 direct employees. Right now, nearly all our utility clients have directed us to stop all site work, grinding our entire business to a halt. If the shutdown continues, we will be forced to furlough or lay off much of our workforce.”

— Lloyd Kass, VP of energy efficiency company Lime Energy in Newark, New Jersey

“We have terminated the employment of approximately 25% of our personnel. We have had over $10 million of projects halt moving forward,” impacting the jobs of at least 150 people.

— Greg Smith, founder of energy efficiency company Energy Optimizers USA in Dayton, Ohio

“As I talk to banks, I hear that they are in a panic situation that I haven’t seen since 2008.”

— Michael Rucker, CEO of wind energy development company Scout Clean Energy near Denver, Colorado.

News item from E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs)