23 Jan Wind Energy Foundation Quarterly Newsletter – Q4 2017
A WORD FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Donors and friends –
In an era of intense political polarization, I find it helpful to regularly remind myself of the values and aspirations that bring Americans together. Polls consistently show that Americans, regardless of political affiliation, want more renewable energy so they can bequeath a cleaner, healthier environment to their children and grandchildren. Likewise, Americans are proud that their country encourages technological innovation and they want to ensure that the benefits of this innovation are brought to communities desperately in need of new economic opportunities.
As described below, we at the Wind Energy Foundation (WEF) have the good fortune of helping accelerate the shift to clean energy for the benefit of future generations and helping to draw attention to the emerging economic opportunities that the clean energy revolution is providing for rural communities.
Recently, I had the pleasure of working in partnership with General Motors and the consulting firm David Gardiner & Associates to roll out a new WEF report, “Transmission Needed to Meet Corporate America’s Growing Demand for Renewable Power.” General Motors (GM) is an example of a company that sees the economic opportunities arising from the shift to renewable energy. In helping us roll out the report, GM’s Rob Threlkeld emphasized his company’s commitment to power 100 percent of its operations with renewable energy, and how the technological innovations in the wind and solar sectors have enabled his company to enjoy cost savings as well as to protect its bottom line against price spikes associated with fossil fuels.
In our report, we emphasized the critical importance of expanding and upgrading transmission so that corporate buyers like GM can meet their goal of procuring 51 gigawatts of renewable energy demand by 2025. A commitment by transmission planners to account for this demand in their infrastructure planning could unleash an enormous opportunity for job creation all across the country.
Much work remains to educate Americans about the jobs opportunities associated with wind and solar energy. For this reason, a few months ago WEF launched a Renewable Energy Jobs Tour in partnership with the wind and solar trade associations AWEA and SEIA and leading solar company NEXTracker. Part of our A Renewable America campaign, this Jobs Tour is travelling to key states across the country to tell the personal stories behind the renewable energy jobs and economic development boom. To date, we have held five events in five states, attended by a Governor, Lt. Governor, a member of the House of Representatives and many key local economic development officials. Check out our videos, follow the tour on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (hashtag #ARenewableAmerica), and let us know if you would like to partner on an upcoming event highlighting the renewable energy jobs in your community!
A Renewable America
A Renewable America (ARA) is continuing work recruiting, training, and mobilizing renewable energy companies and their supply chains to educate the public and key decision makers on the economic benefits of renewable energy.
As mentioned above, the ARA Jobs Tour is now in full swing, having visited Michigan, Virginia, Iowa, Ohio, and Florida in the last four months of 2017. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Apex Clean Energy, Harvest Energy Solutions, and Tradewind Energy joined together to promote a new jobs report. In Bedford, Virginia, local economic development officials toured the town’s new solar installation, generating significant local broadcast and print press coverage. In Iowa, Governor Reynolds toured her first solar project at Ideal Energy.
In Ohio, Rep. David Joyce joined State Rep. David Greenspan on a tour of Talan Products, a sheet metal manufacturer that supplies the solar industry. Talan was named one of America’s fastest growing inner-city businesses. WIRE Net’s John Colm, which represents Ohio-based wind industry suppliers, also joined the tour. Rep. Joyce posted about the event on his Facebook page, and the campaign boosted that post to reach 12,500 constituents in his district. In Florida, the SolarTech Universal announced plans to hire 50 new workers in 2018 at an ARA event, generating local broadcast coverage.
ARA also continued its advocacy training series, hosting trainings in Ohio, Minnesota, and Washington. The trainings provide participants an opportunity to hear from seasoned government affairs and public relations professionals on how best to communicate their story to decision makers and the media. Participants then practice their pitches and media tactics in small breakout sessions, facilitated by the trainers. ARA has now trained 336 renewable energy employees to date.
ARA has also expanded its this year to communicate the economic benefits of greater grid expansion and integration, as well as the benefits of upgrading and expanding transmission. As mentioned above, our report on corporate demand for renewables and transmission planning received significant press coverage, including in Forbes.com, Bloomberg BNA, Politico’s Morning Energy, E&E News, and many trade publications. The report makes two key recommendations: (1) that transmission planners should begin accounting for corporate demand in their planning process; and (2) that corporations with
near-term procurement plans should communicate those plans to the appropriate planning entities. With about 51 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy procurement remaining for corporate purchasers to reach their 60-GW-by-2025 goal, our report raises serious questions on whether the planned transmission lines are adequate to accommodate a significant portion of that demand, particularly when mandatory demand from renewable portfolio standards, and anticipated voluntary procurement by utilities due to the low-cost of renewables in many areas are accounted for.
ARA also recently produced a report on the economic benefits of the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM). The EIM, which helps participating utilities access lower cost electricity and better integrate renewable energy by reducing the dispatch of costly reserves, found that the EIM has already delivered over $250 million in benefits to participants. Those benefits are projected to grow another 55 percent this year with the addition of Portland General Electric. The report was covered in local press and delivered to key Washington-state decision makers. ARA also used Facebook to promote the report in the service areas of Avista, Seattle City Light, and Northwestern, as each are either considering or conditionally committed to joining the market.
Electric Nation: Powered by Wind, the first project of the wind industry’s Global Brands Alliance, continues to grow and now reaches more than a half million people every month with stories and images that strengthen Americans’ emotional connection with wind energy. Many of the 158,000 followers on our campaign’s Facebook page are helping disseminate pro-wind messages to their networks and helping to quash anti-wind misinformation. Included within the Electric Nation community are nearly 13,000 supporters in rural areas with significant wind development. In 2018, the campaign plans to continue to identify themes, messengers, and content that have emotional resonance with wind supporters in rural America and encourage them to spread the word to friends and neighbors. Electric Nation also plans to build partnerships with organizations and individual influencers who can validate or amplify our rural outreach.