WASHINGTON—“The wind energy industry welcomes the President’s focus on climate action,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, in response to President Obama’s announcement of a major address on addressing climate change, tomorrow afternoon at Georgetown University.
“AWEA supports climate policies to achieve science-based greenhouse gas targets,” Kiernan said. “And since wind energy is the leading solution to power-sector carbon emissions, we’re ready to do our part to help America address global warming, especially in the early years of the climate protection effort when few other solutions are as readily deployable and scalable.”
Generating 20 percent of U.S. electricity from wind, a target which the Bush-era Department of Energy said is achievable by the year 2030, will be the climate equivalent of removing 140 million vehicles from the roadways.
Increasing renewables, and wind energy in particular, also creates hundreds of thousands of jobs and expands a new U.S. manufacturing sector. It will save consumers and federal taxpayers money, because renewable energy sources uniquely offer a hedge against volatile fuel prices through long-term, fixed-price contracts.
That’s why carbon-free wind energy was the leading source of new electric generation in America last year, at 42 percent, ahead of all other power sources.
AWEA supports administration policies using existing authority, which can help deploy more wind energy and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
- Maintain a commitment to a renewable energy goal for the nation. In the President’s Blueprint for a Clean and Secure Energy Future released after his 2013 State of the Union speech, he challenged Americans to double the nation’s supply of renewable energy by 2020.
- Increase the amount of renewable energy purchased by the federal government for its own use. Federal agencies are some of the largest electricity users in the country. The President has authority to expand the existing goals and requirements for federal agency procurement of renewable electricity, as presidents of both parties have done previously.
- Regulate greenhouse gases from new and existing power plants. The Clean Air Act gives the EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases, and to provide plant owners with flexibility to utilize renewable energy sources as a means of compliance. The power sector is responsible for approximately a third of global warming emissions, and until now has been the leading unregulated source.
- Facilitate workable permitting for wind projects and for the transmission infrastructure needed to deliver renewable energy.
- Continue to accelerate the development process for offshore wind energy projects. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced plans to hold the first auction for offshore wind energy leases in U.S. in late July. Additional auctions could be held and multiple leases issued by the end of the year.
- Support transmission infrastructure initiatives at federal agencies including DOE and FERC. In the President’s 2013 State of the Union Speech, he said, “We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country.” The President sent a memo on June 7, 2013 to the heads of the Departments of five federal agencies to improve siting, permitting, and review of transmission plans.
- Continue to invest in research and development. The U.S. Department of Energy has invested in initiatives to lower the cost of energy and accelerate permitting timelines.