While many U.S. states have mandates and incentives to get more of their electricity from renewable energy, Republican legislators in Wyoming are proposing to cut the state off from its most abundant, clean resource—wind—and ensuring its continued dependence on coal. A new measure submitted to the Wyoming legislature last week would forbid utilities from providing any electricity to the state that comes from large-scale wind or solar energy projects by 2019. It’s an unprecedented attack on clean energy in Wyoming, and possibly the nation. And it comes at a time when such resources are becoming cheaper and increasingly in demand as the world seeks to transition to clean energy to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
Wind power employs just over 100,000 Americans according to new data released today by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), more than work at nuclear, natural gas, coal, or hydroelectric power plants. These wind jobs can be found across the nation. According to DOE, Texas is home to nearly 25 percent of American wind workers. Substantially more growth is possible. According to DOE’s earlier Wind Vision report, 380,000 American wind jobs could be created by 2030.
More than 92,000 wind turbines have been built across the country, capable of generating 145 gigawatts of electricity, nearly double the capacity of wind farms in the United States. One out of every three turbines in the world is now in China, and the government is adding them at a rate of more than one per hour. But some of its most ambitious wind projects are underused. Many are grappling with a nationwide economic slowdown that has dampened demand for electricity. Others are stymied by persistent favoritism toward the coal industry by local officials and a dearth of transmission lines to carry electricity from rural areas in the north and west to China’s fastest-growing cities.
A bill proposed by six state lawmakers would charge utilities a penalty if they use wind or solar energy to provide Wyoming consumers with electricity. If Senate File 71 were law, there would be six permissible resources for generating electricity for Wyomingites, including natural gas and coal. Wind and solar are not on the list, except for individual use. Utilities would have a year to reach the first compliance milestone of the bill, in which each company would have to get 95 percent of its Wyoming-sold energy from the approved resources.
Talking to my Senate Republican colleagues about climate change is like talking to prisoners about escaping. The conversations are often private, even furtive. One told me, “Let’s keep talking, but you can’t let my staff know.” The dirty secret is that climate change is not really a partisan issue in Congress.
Colorado has 62,000 people working in the clean energy sector, according to a new report from Environmental Entrepreneurs, a national nonpartisan business group. The “Clean Jobs Colorado” report said the jobs in 2015 were clustered in the counties along Colorado’s Front Range, including Denver, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Adams, Douglas, Boulder, Larimer, Weld, El Paso and Mesa counties.
Some of the world’s top oil exporters want to be major players in solar power, too. Middle East and North African countries, blessed by ample sunlight and open space, are increasingly adopting solar power. But it’s not European, Chinese or American companies taking the lead on some of the region’s largest solar parks. It’s local firms that are relatively new to renewable energy.
North Carolina legislators want the incoming Trump administration to shut down a nearly complete, $400 million wind farm they believe poses a national security threat because it’s too close to a long-distance surveillance radar installation. Ten legislators including the leaders of the state House and Senate signed a letter sent to President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, House Speaker Tim Moore’s spokesman Joseph Kyzer said Thursday.
A new study has concluded that states like Iowa, California, & Texas, which have strong clean energy industries, are also attracting businesses and creating jobs in the thousands. The “groundbreaking study” released this week by the US Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) ranked all 50 US states based on the ease with which some of America’s “most recognizable brands” are able to procure domestic renewable energy.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this week proposed to develop up to 2,400 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind power by 2030 capable of powering 1.25 million homes as the state seeks to lead the nation in renewable energy production. The offshore wind proposal came after the Democratic governor said on Monday that Entergy Corp’s 2,069-MW Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County would shut by 2021 and the state planned to replace its power output with renewable and low carbon energy sources.