Private-Public Partnerships Key to Future of Clean Energy

Jun 12, 2013

What will determine which forms of clean energy - if any - take off in the future economy, and which will be relegated to the dust bin of once-promising ideas?

Earlier this week, we spoke with Todd Myers, the environmental director of a Washington state free market think tank – Myers contends that the free market, not government, should determine which sources of clean energy flourish in this country.

This map shows the percentage of clean energy jobs among states' overall economies.
Credit Pew Charitable Trusts, 2009

A Milwaukee economist believes private industry plays a crucial role, but that public involvement is equally important.  Doctor Abdur Chowdhury says public-private partnerships should be the key factors at the heart of the clean energy equation.  Chowdhury is chairman of the economics department at Marquette University, and a Lake Effect contributor. 

Chowdhury says job creation should be as much a part of the equation as fulfilling renewable energy mandates.  "We have a the lack of enough skilled workers in this area," he says, "so this is where I think there’s a need for public-private partnership."

Chowdhury believes the factors that influence the equation in Wisconsin are generally similar to what states are dealing with across the country.  

"We do need some effective steps by the government here to motivate the private sector." - Abdur Chowdhury

But Chowdhury also believes government efforts to force private industry to act are doomed to failure.  "The government can encourage various steps and they can create an environment where the private industry can come in, but I don't think mandating these things would take us too far."