President Obama on Wednesday will pledge to step up government aid for Arctic communities whose shorelines and infrastructure are crumbling as warming seas melt their foundations, intensifying his administration’s effort to cope with the effects of climate change where they are being felt most acutely. Venturing north of the Arctic Circle to Kotzebue, where he will become the first sitting president to visit Arctic Alaska, Mr. Obama will announce federal grant programs to help villages there cope with coastal erosion and high energy costs, and, in some extreme cases, relocate altogether, the White House said.
All this leads me to believe that the transition to renewables is well underway and offers not only investment opportunities for those with insight and patience, but also a response to the challenge presented by global climate change. With care being paid to where the investments are made, the financial returns should be quite impressive in the decades ahead. If only I were younger.
The cost of producing electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind has dropped significantly over the past five years, narrowing the gap with power generated from fossil fuels and nuclear reactors, according to the International Energy Agency. “The costs of renewable technologies — in particular solar photovoltaic — have declined significantly over the past five years,” the Paris-based IEA said in a report called Projected Costs of Generating Electricity. “These technologies are no longer cost outliers.”
Iowa’s renewable leadership goes beyond biofuels. Iowa became the first state to implement a renewable electricity standard when I signed it into law in 1983. That paved the way for Iowa’s leadership position in wind generation, which today generates nearly 30 percent of Iowa’s electricity and is expected to grow to 41 percent by 2020. In fact, wind energy observers believe Iowa could produce enough wind energy by 2030 to achieve complete energy independence and export excess energy to other U.S. states. And it doesn’t stop at wind, as solar energy shows great potential in Iowa as well.
Gov. Jerry Brown is working on an ambitious plan for transmitting electricity across state lines and bolstering California’s role in the region, according to energy officials. The plan would integrate PacifiCorp, a utility serving six Western states, into the electricity grid run by the California Independent System Operator, which is based in Folsom. If successful, it could make solar and wind energy available more widely throughout the West — a potential victory for Brown, who has sought partnerships beyond California’s borders in his fight against climate change.
President Obama on Monday issued a global call for urgent action to address climate change, declaring that the United States was partly to blame for what he called the defining challenge of the century and would rally the world to counter it. “Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now,” Mr. Obama said here at an international conference on the Arctic. “We’re not acting fast enough. I have come here today, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and its second-largest emitter, to say that the United States recognizes our role in creating the problem, and we embrace our responsibility to help solve it.”
We have all heard about Obama’s “war on coal,” but in reality, the challenges facing the coal industry are much more varied and complex than the “war” label would lead us to believe. There is a war on energy being waged, but the target is not coal, it is renewable energy, namely wind and solar. The attack dogs in this war—all of which have ties to Koch industries and include Americans for Prosperity (AFP), American Energy Alliance (AEA) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—frame their attacks as a defense of the free market and fiscal conservatism. Yet even a cursory examination of their positions reveals they’re not defending the free market, but attempting to protect the fossil fuel industry from competition.
As lawmakers consider new measures to combat climate change, researchers at UC Berkeley released a study saying stronger renewable energy requirements would lead to new jobs. California law requires the state to get 33% of its electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, by 2020. A bill by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) would increase that standard to 50% by 2030.
MidAmerican Energy Co. of Des Moines said Thursday that its next wind farms, estimated last spring as a $900 million investment, will be installed in northwest Iowa’s Ida and O’Brien Counties by the end of 2016. The Ida Grove wind farm will have 134 wind-powered generators and the O’Brien wind farm will have 104 for a combined capacity of 552 megawatts. As a comparison, Omaha Public Power District’s north Omaha power plant has a capacity of 638 megawatts.
President Obama will travel to Alaska on Monday to call for urgent and aggressive action to tackle climate change, capitalizing on a poignant tableau of melting glaciers, crumbling permafrost and rising sea levels to illustrate the immediacy of an issue he hopes to make a central element of his legacy. But during a three-day trip choreographed to lend spectacular visuals and real-world examples to Mr. Obama’s message on global warming, he will pay little heed to the oil and gas drilling offshore that he allowed to go forward just this month, a move that activists say is an unsavory blot on an otherwise ambitious climate record.