Governors’ group announces new leadership

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition has picked Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) as chairwoman and Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback as vice chairman, the group announced today.

In a statement, Raimondo touted the Block Island Wind Farm — the nation’s first offshore wind facility, which is slated to come online before the end of the year.

“As the governor of the first state in the nation to develop commercial offshore wind energy resources, I look forward to continuing our work with other governors to expand offshore wind and to collaborating with states across the nation to open new markets for wind and solar energy,” Raimondo said.

“Wind and solar energy expansion creates jobs, diversifies our energy sources, and ensures long-term energy affordability,” she said.

The announcement comes as the group, which represents 20 states from Hawaii to Rhode Island, is meeting today in Providence, R.I. The American Wind Energy Association’s offshore conference is happening at the same venue tomorrow.

Raimondo replaces Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad as chairman, while Brownback will move into a slot formerly occupied by Raimondo.

In the statement, Brownback said he was honored to work with Raimondo, whom he called “an example of gubernatorial leadership at its best.”

The deeply conservative Brownback has a long history of supporting wind power dating back to his tenure as a senator, during which he co-sponsored legislation to create a national renewable portfolio standard.

As governor, however, he has faced pressure to repeal the state’s renewable energy standards, which last year became voluntary.

Today’s statement noted that wind supplied nearly one-quarter of Kansas’ power last year and may exceed 30 percent this year.

“We can generate half of Kansas’s electricity using wind energy,” Brownback said. “Working with wind developers and developing more transmission, Kansas can grow its renewable energy production even faster.”