Renewable energy just got another boost. Yesterday the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition voted unanimously to rebrand as the the Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, showing the increased importance of solar power to the nation’s energy supply—not just its clean energy supply.
The bipartisan coalition of governors understand that developing the nation’s renewable energy resources including wind and solar energy stimulate state and national economic development while reducing the use of fossil fuel energy sources. Among its successes, the 22-member coalition said it forcefully advocated for a long-term extension of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar power.
“This bipartisan governors’ coalition has been highly effective at getting policy results and have helped grow wind energy for nearly a decade,” added Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO. “The governors’ decision to combine forces with solar energy reflects the economic and environmental value of diversifying our nation’s grid with clean, reliable renewable energy.”
Adding solar to the coalition’s name and purview will help it engage Congress and the President on other important issues, the coalition said. That includes energy storage and research and development.
“The addition of solar to the Coalition’s portfolio represents a commitment to future economic and renewable energy growth, and further diversification of our nation’s energy portfolio,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, the organization’s chairman for 2016. “Bringing to bear the support of America’s leading governors and their commitment to both solar and wind energy, and the Coalition’s high-quality policy work, this group can have significant influence. Adding solar energy will strengthen our voice.”
The organization’s change also was praised by leading wind and solar advocacy organizations, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “We commend the Coalition for recognizing solar power’s central role in the American energy landscape,” said SEIA President Rhone Resch. “The lion’s share of policy is made in states, and so it is critical that solar has a seat at the table when the governors consider their energy options.”
“In particular, battles over net energy metering are playing out in more than 20 states and recognition among governors that consumer choice and clean air both rest on fair net metering policies is so important right now,” Resch said. “By making solar energy a top policy priority, these leading governors are sending a powerful message that the future of clean energy is now, and we look forward to working with them to fully utilize America’s renewable resources.”
The coalition said that since it was formed seven years ago, wind energy has grown to provide 5 percent of the nation’s energy supply, up from 1 percent when the coalition launched—in some states it provides more than 25 percent of the demand. Wind also now employs more than 73,000 people in the U.S. Solar already employs nearly 209,000 in the U.S., according to the coalition and a recent census. It’s expected to produce 3.5 of the U.S.’s energy supply by 2020.Tweet