Yesterday (Feb. 13) a bipartisan group of nearly half of all US governors—the Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition—sent a strongly worded letter to President Donald Trump (R) and Congress urging them to support wind and solar power. They called for the federal government to increase wind and solar research and development, streamlining permitting processes, offshore wind development legislation, and updates to transmission infrastructure to improve renewable energy development.
“Members of the Coalition have seen the benefits of renewable energy firsthand and agree that expanding renewable energy production is one of the best ways to meet the country’s growing demand for energy,” Rhode Island Gov. and Coalition Chair Gina Raimondo (D) and Kansas Gov. and and Coalition Vice-Chair Sam Brownback (R) wrote on behalf of the coalition. “Today’s wind and solar resources offer consumers nearly unlimited electric energy with no fuel costs, no national security impacts, and a number of environmental benefits.”
“If the United States does not continue robust federal research and development programs in wind and solar energy, we will cede leadership in these critical technologies to other nations that have demonstrated ongoing high priority commitments to these technologies, such as China,” the governors observed. “We would also cede the resulting economic development benefits to these nations and would be importing the great majority of our wind and solar equipment from them.”
“The coalition’s 20 member-states are home to hundreds of wind and solar energy facilities that employ hundreds of thousands of Americans and contribute significantly to each state’s economy, and the nation’s at large,” the governors wrote.
The governors likened the impact of renewable energy to low-income rural areas across the country to the passage of the Homestead Act over 150 years ago. “For example, U.S. wind facilities pay rural landowners $222 million a year, with more than $156 million going to landowners in areas with below-average incomes. In addition, $100 billion has been invested by companies in low-income counties, where some 70 percent of the nation’s wind farms are located,” they asserted in the letter.
They also noted the impact on jobs creation. “Last year, the country’s solar industry employed over 200,000 and added 31,000 new jobs.” More recent figures show that number is even higher, at 51,000 new jobs in 2016 and 260,077 jobs overall. Most of the installations are in rural areas and have provided landowners another income option. “Further, the United States added a record 4,143 GW of new solar in the third quarter of 2016. Wind energy currently generates nearly 25 percent of Kansas’s electricity, 35 percent of Iowa’s electricity, and 5 percent of the entire nation’s electricity.”
Looking ahead, the governors urged Trump and Congress increase fund for research and development of wind and solar power and to streamline permitting for wind and solar projects. “The nation’s long-term investment in research conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories, state universities, and private companies around the nation is responsible for the extraordinary growth of the nation’s wind and solar energy industry,” the governors asserted. They also observed that new technologies are both increasing reliability while reducing costs and connected those advances to federal funding.
“This funding will also continue the dramatic cost reductions we’ve seen over the past 15 years as the average cost of wind and solar energy production continue to fall. For states without fossil fuel resources, wind and solar offer economic development opportunities for rural areas. For states with natural gas, coal, and oil resources, wind and solar present an opportunity to diversify energy resources,” they wrote.Tweet