Wind Energy Jobs on the Rise as U.S. States Chart a Clean Path to Fight Climate Change

Source: By Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Director of Programs, Natural Resources Defense Council • Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015

With summer fast approaching, the impacts of climate change are hitting home with even greater force. NRDC recently reported that climate change is linked to more pollen and smog, threatening more asthma and allergy attacks across the country. Meanwhile, drought continues to grip California and floods have ravaged Texas — showing us in the starkest terms what climate change can mean for our communities.

The good news is that this summer is also a time ripe with ready solutions to help America address the threats of climate change. The U.S. EPA is expected to launch its Clean Power Plan that will dramatically reduce carbon pollution from power plants — the biggest source of climate change pollution in our country. States are already gearing up to reduce carbon pollution and create local jobs. Many are turning to one of the best and most cost-effective ways to cut carbon pollution: America’s abundant clean energy resources.

Something historic is happening across the country. Wind and solar power provided 47 percent of all the new electric generating capacity installed across the country last year. In April of this year, every bit of our new capacity came from the wind and sun. Prices for solar panel installations are down nearly 50 percent over just the past five years, and wind turbine costs have fallen even more.

This is only the beginning.

A new report by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) on the economic benefits from wind energy in Colorado is a terrific illustration of how far home-grown clean energy can get us both for our health and our economy. As my colleague and one of the report contributors Noah Long explains, Colorado is a national leader in the wind industry, with growing wind installation and a full manufacturing supply chain. Smart policy choices and strong public support for clean energy have helped Colorado reach this leadership position. According to E2, Colorado is now the top state for wind manufacturing jobs and ranks third for wind jobs overall. For Colorado and other states, the next steps are clear: implementation of the Clean Power Plan (especially strengthening renewable energy standards), not only provides a path to reducing harmful carbon pollution but it also creates opportunities for good paying jobs. And when states work together through standards that are compatible the beneficial contributions of clean energy get multiplied across entire regions.

Wind is a critical part of building a long term solution to climate change. The wind industry is doing great work to create an alternate and job-creating path as we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. It views the Clean Power Plan as an exciting catalyst for making the most of our wind potential across the country. With “smart from the start” planning, renewable energy wind and solar sources are being put in place in a way that fights climate change while also protecting our most cherished wildlife and wildlands for generations to come. Further, the potential for wind energy production only increases with technology advances such as the use of taller turbines that can make many states into our new wind power-houses.

Of course the fossil fuel industry and its paid special-interests are trying to undermine smart energy policies that would put the Clean Power Plan into practice. Just recently the Nevada legislature passed an anti-clean energy bill. Ironically, this happened at the same time that several major new solar projects were announced in the state showing how out of step fossil fuel interests are with what is in the best interests of the public. But in general, narrow fossil fuel interests are losing ground in the face of the dangers of climate change and the opportunities of clean energy. And, the rapid cost declines for wind and solar are helping drive high adoption rates of renewable energy in across the country.

Pragmatic governors and lawmakers understand the flexibility built into the Clean Power Plan, and they want their state to design its own clean energy future. In fact, recent analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that with retirement of uneconomic coal plants, renewable energy and energy efficiency, most states are already making significant progress toward cutting carbon emissions from power plants and are already on the path to meeting their Clean Power Plan goals.

America’s abundant clean energy resources will help us cut carbon pollution and power our nation with reliable, cost-effective energy. Colorado is leading the way with wind energy and states across the nation are preparing their own clean energy solutions to implement the Clean Power Plan and cut climate-wrecking pollution from power plants.