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Pro-Coal Trump’s Southern Voter Base Turns to Solar

Donald Trump may want to revive coal and crush America’s solar and wind industries, but his base is voting the other way with its dollars, InsideClimate News reports, as price and energy independence make winning arguments with utilities and homeowners.
“Despite the lack of renewable energy-friendly policies and reluctance from Republican-led state legislatures to address climate change,” the ICN writes, “states across the South and Appalachia―regions that voted heavily for Donald Trump―are rapidly expanding their solar markets.” Georgia, for example, ranked third in the United States for solar installations last year.
Utility-scale investment accounts for most of the growth, as operators find they can’t ignore prices that have dropped by 80% since 2010, to the point that they undercut competing coal and natural gas supplies.
“There’s also a grassroots rooftop solar movement in coal-friendly communities,” InsideClimate observes, “encouraged by cheap technology and a push for energy independence.”
But it’s not happening out of concern for climate. “Climate change is never coming up in any development activity [conversations],” said Matt Beasley, chief marketing officer of solar provider Silicon Ranch. “It’s not a talking point―it’s always about economics.”
Solar installations are also creating jobs more than twice as fast as coal, and will likely lead job creation for most of the next decade, other studies have found.