Bipartisan set of governors urge Senators to restore funding for wind energy research

Source: By American Wind Energy Association • Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington and Republican Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa sent a letter today on behalf of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition calling on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee to reverse its decision to hamper long-term investment in research advancing American wind power.

The governors’ letter was sent to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran and Vice Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski and refers to funding in the 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill set for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) budget and used for research and technology innovation that has helped lower wind power’s costs by 66 percent in the last six years.

“The nation’s long-term investment in research conducted by DOE’s energy programs, National Laboratories, our state universities, and private companies around the nation has helped fuel the extraordinary growth of the nation’s wind energy industry,” the letter states. “As governors, we see the benefits this innovative research has brought to our states, including energy diversification and continual wealth generation in rural America.”

Cutting funding for wind energy research could leave untapped opportunities for new wind farm development and the economic benefits that come with it in all 50 states according to the letter, especially the Southeast, and the bill’s elimination of funding for grid modernization restrains the U.S. from capitalizing on the full range of economic and environmental benefits gained by diversifying the U.S. electricity mix with homegrown wind energy.

“These states’ Chief Executive Officers are telling Congress that their decision to hinder wind power’s growth hurts their state economies,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “We support the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition in urging Congress to restore funding for research that has helped improve wind power’s technology and bring more of wind’s low-cost benefits to American families and businesses.”

“We’re gaining momentum, now is not the time for Congress to turn its back on American supported wind energy,” added Kiernan.

The U.S. has some of the most productive wind turbines in the world because of DOE’s research and development of turbine technology and the significant drop in costs of wind power has allowed for billions of dollars in savings to be passed onto American homeowners and businesses.

With more wind energy, electricity prices would be 20 percent less sensitive to fluctuations in the price of fossil fuels by 2050 according the DOE’s Wind Vision report and consumers would see $280 billion in economy-wide savings from reduced natural gas prices alone.

American wind power supports 73,000 jobs today, including 20,000 manufacturing jobs. By supplying 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030 wind could create more than 380,000 jobs according to Wind Vision and by supplying 35 percent 2050 create 600,000 jobs.

Polls consistently show an overwhelming majority of American voters support growing the nation’s domestic renewable energy resources. A March 2015 annual Gallup environment poll found 84 percent of American voters want the U.S. to put more emphasis or the same emphasis on producing domestic energy from wind. Two-thirds of Republicans and independents wanted more emphasis. A recent survey by Yale University found 77 percent of Americans support funding research into renewable energy sources, and that there is no red/blue divide on continuing American innovation in this area.