Conservative Politicians Embrace Clean Technology

While embracing green energy has long been a staple of the Democratic Party, many GOP lawmakers are seeing the financial benefits of weening off of fossil fuels.

by Taft Wireback, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C. / December 2, 2015

(TNS) -- Solar power and other forms of renewable energy draw much passionate support from the political left, but it really should be a two-way street, conservative energy advocate Mark Fleming said Tuesday.

Alternative energy saves money, conserves resources and bolsters free enterprise — all outcomes embraced by those who lean right, said Fleming, president of the nonprofit group Conservatives for Clean Energy.

“This should be a bipartisan issue,” Fleming told a gathering of executives and legislative leaders at the Proximity Hotel. “Clean energy has become an economic driver in North Carolina.”

Fleming’s Raleigh-based group co-hosted a luncheon, panel discussion and awards ceremony at the Proximity, one of North Carolina’s most energy-efficient structures and the world’s first hotel to receive “platinum green” certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

But the hotel will be getting competition from the company that employs one of the afternoon panelists, John Wescott, whose VF Corp. headquarters plans to add solar-car ports to generate electricity from the company parking lot off North Elm Street and also to install a dozen or more charging stations for employees with electric-powered cars.

In addition, VF, an international maker of apparel and footwear, announced Tuesday that it will run all company-owned and –operated facilities on “100 percent renewable energy by 2025.”

Wescott, VF’s global manager of sustainability and responsibility, told the audience that the reason was simple — such measures make sense on the bottom line. He noted that when another VF exec asked how the company’s green efforts worked out on the bottom line, he was able to demonstrate savings of $25 million.

“You don’t do these things just because they’re cool,” Wescott said. “Saving $25 million, that’s cool.”

Other panelists discussing their companies’ growing embrace of green-energy technologies included Candace Taylor Anderson of Belk, Inc., and Jerry M. Williams of SAS Institute. The event was co-hosted by the Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, a national network of local chambers of commerce that helps member companies tap clean-energy resources.

In addition to solar power, clean energy includes such non-fossil sources of energy as wind, biofuels and waste to energy.

Legislators attending the event included state Sen. Jerry Tillman of Archdale, Republican majority whip, and state Reps. John Faircloth (R-High Point), Ralph Johnson (D-Greensboro) and David Lewis of Dunn, the GOP chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Fleming presented awards recognizing efforts to use or promote clean energy in North Carolina to SAS, VF, New Belgium Brewing Co., Wal-Mart Corp., the North Carolina Pork Council and several others.

©2015 the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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