One of the more important roles of the federal government is
to ensure that the energy required to keep our country running smoothly is
reliable, abundant and affordable. Many
Americans are in favor of the government working toward reducing harmful
emissions that pollute our air and water; and, they encourage investment in new
technologies to help. The Clean Power
Plan gives the states the authority to choose resources that will benefit
consumers by using low-cost home-grown renewable energy that will result in
better health for citizens and increased economic development.
In June, the Environmental Protection Agency released its Clean
Power Plan, which will enhance the effort to reduce pollution by limiting
carbon emissions from existing power plants. The building blocks that the EPA
has suggested for meeting the goals are flexible and include using renewable
energy sources that, despite what some people say, are very low cost. In the last five years, wind costs have fallen
more than 50%, which helps consumers save money on their energy bills.
Wind energy is already helping many states reduce carbon
pollution in an affordable, reliable manner. In March 2014, a study by PJM, the
largest grid operator in the world, serving 60 million customers across 13
Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes states, shows that obtaining 20 percent of PJM’s
electricity from wind energy reduces the cost of producing electricity by about
$10 billion annually (about 25 percent of total annual production costs of $40
billion), while 30 percent wind reduces production costs by about $15 billion
(about 37.5 percent of total production costs) each year.
The truth is wind farms are
reliable and extremely effective at capturing the maximum amount of energy from
the wind – even when the wind does not seem to be blowing. That’s because of
the significant advancements in wind forecasting, system software, and
equipment technology. And, in an
excellent example of market forces at work, many utilities across the country have
praised wind for being the most cost-effective energy source and offering a
valuable hedge against rising and volatile fuel prices, such as natural
The benefits of moving forward with the Clean Power Plan far
outweigh any trepidation about government mandates. States have the power to
choose which energy resources are best for them. Renewable energy projects are
built on private land giving landowners another source of income, and the
communities that host them also benefit from tax payments that are often used
for road improvements, schools and to reduce property taxes for all
residents. In addition, wind power
bolsters America’s economy. In the past five years $75 billion in private
investment has been injected into our economy.
The wind industry supports 500 manufacturing facilities in 43 states,
and up to 85,000 well-paying jobs in fields like: engineering, construction and
manufacturing. With statistics like this, it’s no coincidence that 72% of
Americans want more wind power to be developed, according to a Navigant poll
conducted this year. Furthermore, more
and more big businesses around the country are demanding clean renewable energy. They consider state renewable energy policies
when they are looking to locate in a new state, and to help meet their own
corporate sustainability goals.
Wind energy is rapidly-scalable and has zero emissions,
making it the cleanest source of low-cost utility-scale electricity production
available today. Growing the American wind power industry enhances the security
of the United States and strengthens our country’s energy independence, as well. So, what’s not to like?
This article was written for and first appeared in Morning Consult.