2012 state election summary analysis


  • Proposal 3 fell victim to a broad rejection of all constitutional amendments by Michigan voters on Tuesday. None of the five proposals to change the constitution passed. Public support for renewable energy in the state remained strong, but the number of proposals led to a crowded ballot and voter concerns about changing the constitution in so many ways. In addition to renewable energy, constitutional amendments on collective bargaining, home health care, state tax increases and bridge building all failed. Exit polls and Michigan news reports voter sentiment was targeted at concerns for the constitution. There was a well-funded broad-based campaign against all of the ballot initiatives, using a theme of protecting the Michigan constitution.
  • The result leaves unanswered questions about the state’s energy policy. Michigan is a state with great wind energy resources and great manufacturing and supply chain capabilities. Wind is working extremely well in the state and is lower cost than almost all conventional sources according to the state’s economic regulator, the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Eastern Region


  • In Delaware, Democratic Governor Markell, a strong supporter of renewables, easily won re-election.
  • In North Carolina, Republican Governor Pat McCrory defeated Democratic Lt. Governor Walter Dalton. McCrory is a former Duke Energy Executive and we do not view him as particularly friendly to renewable energy.
  • In West Virginia, Coal-centric Democratic Governor Tomblin won re-election.

State Legislative

  • In Ohio, o ur Senate champions (Hite, LaRose, Widener) and our detractors (Seitz, Coley, Jones) all remain in office. Senator President Tom Neihaus is term-limited and will be replaced by current Senate President Pro Tem Keith Faber, which will be helpful to the industry. In the House, the industry's supporters and detractors largely remain in office. No significant changes will be made to Republican leadership.
  • In Maine, Democrats appear to have retaken both the Maine Senate and the Maine House of Representatives, and it appears the Constitutional Officers will be replaced. Governor LePage announced an ambitious agenda for the upcoming session – an agenda that the new Democratic majority already announced they will challenge.
  • In North Carolina, Senate Republicans extended their lead in the state Senate by one seat, claiming a 32 to 18 seat majority. The biggest threat to renewables will be in the area of tax reform. Still in the House are friends of the industry, Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R – Mecklenburg) and Rep. Tom Murry (R – Wake). The biggest threat to renewable in the House comes from Rep. Mike Hager (R – Rutherford) who has sought to eliminate the RPS.

Other races

In the hotly contested Connecticut 5th c ongressional race, Democrat Elizabeth Esty, wife of state energy commissioner Dan Esty, won over Andrew Roraback. Dan Esty has been a big supporter of public financing small renewable projects while ignoring the benefits of large out-of-state wind. It has been difficult to get any traction with Esty on the merits of big wind.

Central Region


  • Indiana Republican Mike Pence defeated Democrat John Gregg by a vote of 50% to 46%. Although Pence is not supportive of RPS requirements, we do believe the Governor will have an interest in working with the industry on new policy strategies for Indiana.
  • Gov. Jay Nixon was reelected and remains committed to the creation of more in-state renewable energy production.

State Legislative

  • The renewable energy industry played a role in helping elect more than a dozen new House and Senate Democrats in Illinois, primarily through the Clean Energy Illinois PAC and other campaign volunteering efforts, which AWEA supported.
  • Michigan House Republican majority fell by 5 Seats To 59. Former Rep. Terry Brown (D) takes Rep. Damrow’s seat. Outgoing Rep. Damrow sponsored anti-wind legislation that would have significantly impacted our tax treatment. We are optimistic that Rep. Brown will be a friend - we have a good relationship with him from when he was in office from 2008-10.
  • Republicans maintain a supermajority in the Indiana House and Senateb and took control of both the Arkansas House and Senate by narrow majorities as Gov. Beebe works to enact energy legislation in 2013.
  • In Kansas, House Energy & Utilities; KETA Board Chair and fourteen-term legislator Carl Holmes was defeated by political newcomer and Tea Party activist Reid Petty. Chairman Holmes was helpful in tabling an RPS freeze bill in 2012, and will be a missing voice of informed reason in a state legislature with 16 new senators and 55 new House members.

Public Utility Commissions

  • Pro-renewables commission candidates in Louisiana and North Dakota failed to win.
  • In Nebraska, Fred Christianson has served on the Burt County Public Power District Board which he will resign to become a member of the new Board of the Nebraska Public Power District. During the primary many of Christianson’s ads were touting the major benefits of wind energy.

Western Region


  • Governorships in Washington (Jay Inslee) and Montana (Steve Bullock) remain D with both governors-elect generally favorable to renewable energy and state RPS.
  • Governor Herbert after more challenging primary easily won reelection in Utah.

State Legislative

  • California now has 2/3 D supermajorities in both senate and house; Prop 39 passed that has a 5-year funding mechanism at over $500 million annually to "create energy efficiency and clean energy jobs."
  • Oregon house flipped to D; senate remains D … generally more favorable climate to clean energy policies than before.
  • Washington H ouse and Senate remain democratic; all clean energy champions retained seats.
  • Colorado H ouse flipped stronger than expected for Ds. Major clean energy champions reelected. Result is a more favorable clean energy policy legislative climate than before.

Public Utility Commissions

  • Arizona and Montana utility commissions lost all Ds resulting generally in a much more unfavorable clean energy policy climate.
  • New Mexico PRC two races won by Ds, good potential for clean energy leadership.