Small Biz Sees Big Opportunity in Energy Efficiency

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Originally featured on

As the nation’s most prolific job creators, small business owners have a lot of expectations placed on them. Small employers in California have an especially tall order, with unemployment at a stark 11.9 percent — nearly 3 percent higher than the national rate.

Small business owners can help pull the economy out of its slump. But if we want our jobs engine to function properly, California needs to help its small businesses put the Golden State back on the road to economic prosperity.

High energy costs are a major problem for small business owners trying to grow and hire. Yet in order to help small firms save money that they can use to expand their businesses, we need bold policies that will not only help boost their bottom lines, but create new market opportunities.

New Fuel-Economy Regs Can Boost Small Business

The Obama Administration announced Wednesday its draft rule to require cars, SUVs, and light trucks to reach 54.5 mpg by 2025, and California is slated to announce new carbon emission standards soon. These standards will not only help California small businesses save money on energy costs, but will create new market opportunities that will help them thrive.

How do we know these policies will help small businesses? Because small businesses say so.

Businesses Support Higher Standards

On Nov. 14, Small Business Majority released an opinion poll that shows 80 percent of California small business owners believe it’s important to increase fuel efficiency in cars and light trucks, and 80 percent also support a federal requirement of 60 mpg by 2025 — a standard even higher than President Obama’s proposed 54.5 mpg standard.

In California, the Air Resources Board is about to release an outline for updating its clean cars program and strengthening carbon emission standards for light-duty vehicles sold in the state. According to our poll, 75 percent of California small businesses support requiring the auto industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What’s more, 65 percent of these employers say American car companies do not innovate enough, and 79 percent hope the federal government will do more to make them innovate.

Energy Innovation Creates Jobs

California has long led the drive for cleaner, more advanced cars and trucks. There’s no reason to break that trend now. In fact, now’s a better time than ever for the state to take advantage of the job creation opportunities that come with energy innovation.

California small business owners believe the top problem facing small businesses today is the rising cost of doing business, such as higher fuel and energy costs, but 82 percent say improving innovation and energy efficiency are good ways to increase prosperity for small firms.

It’s not just green businesses that believe energy innovation will help them, either.

A Win-Win For Businesses And Consumers

Just 12 percent of California business owners say their business generates revenue directly through the new clean economy. The majority of businesses owners — 82 percent — say they do not. But they overwhelmingly support energy innovation policies, because they know these policies will save them money and pad their bottom line.

Requiring automakers to innovate will drive down fuel and energy costs for Americans across the board; small business owners will have extra cash to grow their businesses, and consumers will have extra cash to spend. That’s a win-win.

In this highly-charged political climate, it’s important to note that survey respondents came from all across the political spectrum: 29 percent of respondents identified as Republicans, 28 percent as Democrats and 42 percent as independents.

The small business owners whose firms make up the backbone of our economy have made their views clear. Higher fuel economy requirements and stronger carbon emission standards will be a boon for small businesses and consumers alike; in California and across the nation, our economy will grow.

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