Right on the heels of Tappergate, The New York Times comes out with a couple of articles exploring the economic benefits of fighting global warming. As is evident to anyone but a Taphole, the energy business is the largest business there ever is or was or will be, and therein lies not only enormous money-making opportunities but jobs, jobs, jobs. These things, we hear, are good for the economy.

So, take California, which decided to get serious about developing a solar industry. The state committed $3 billion in declining incentives over a 10-year period, and in return leveraged a lot more than that in private equity. Venture capitalists have put $625 million into California solar companies in 2007 alone. Manufacturers are feverishly commercializing new technologies, and if you can spell solar you can get a job out here.

So, how does an enterprising young state get a piece of that action? I’m glad you asked. Last Wednesday, in Denver, with Governor Ritter on hand, we released a report that we developed with the Center for American Progress titled “Developing State Photovoltaic Markets” (PDF). It’s a blueprint for making a solar market work. The premise here is that the key to lowering solar’s costs — and generating good jobs while you are at it — is creating markets. The folks at NREL have done a great job in developing the technology; photovoltaics work great. Government R&D efforts should be redoubled, but using policy to open markets will leverage orders of magnitude more in private equity and further accelerate solar’s entry into the mainstream.

Secondly, without an extension of the federal investment tax credit, everything we are trying to do gets 30 percent harder — and it’s quite hard enough as it is, thank you very much. There’s a great argument to be made for putting an extension in the financial stimulus package, as the Senate is currently considering. Congress, if you are reading this, won’t you please consider a very easy action that will jumpstart the economy, fight global warming, and establish energy independence all at the same time? These things are popular with voters, we hear.