Over the last three months, we’ve seen three different journalists with three different articles in three high-profile outlets write about how the secret is out: More Republicans than ever know wind energy and other renewables are a good deal.
And why shouldn’t they? 86 percent of wind farms are in Republican districts. That means the record 88,000 jobs and the $128 billion of private investment over the last 10 years can predominantly be found in red districts.
Just today, new polling results from the Texas Clean Energy Coalition found 78 percent of Texas GOP voters, and 85 percent of Texans overall, support growing clean energy in the state. And 85 percent also agree Texas should create its own clean energy plan, with eight of 10 Republicans supporting the measure.
Back in March, Morning Consult’s Jack Fitzpatrick had this to say about the recent extension of a successful long-term policy that grows renewables, passed by a bipartisan vote in Congress:
As wind and solar energy development has grown in the United States, more Republicans represent constituencies that benefit from renewable energy tax credits. Wind turbines and solar panels are popping up on GOP territory, and interest groups say they have witnessed a corresponding shift in the political dynamic behind renewable energy policy.
Even the long-standing anti-renewable energy special interest group Americans for Prosperity admitted Republicans are seeing the benefit of policies growing wind energy:
“A lot of Senate Republicans see [last year’s tax credit deal] as a win-win,” said Chrissy Harbin, director of federal affairs for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group tied to the Koch brothers.
Then, in April, Bloomberg’s Joe Ryan took note of the rising trend of Republicans in office making it clear they support wind energy.
As the cost of wind and solar power has plummeted, the solid consensus against alternative energy in the U.S. Republican Party has begun to crack… a small and growing number of once-skeptical Republicans is embracing wind and solar. They see the clean energy sources delivering cheap electricity, bolstering America’s energy independence and fueling economic development in impoverished rural areas.
Ryan emphasized that conservatives are getting behind renewable energy because of its drop in costs. Wind power, for example, costs two-thirds less than it did six years ago.
Later, Ryan again pointed out increasing Republican support is squarely due to mostly rural communities seeing an economic boost thanks to wind energy:
Wind and solar farms are often built on farmland, which is typically flat, cheap and treeless. That has provided rental income for farmers and created a groundswell of construction jobs. Wind and solar companies employed nearly 300,000 people in the U.S. in 2015, roughly four times more than the coal industry. All of the top 10 wind-energy producing congressional districts are represented by Republicans, according to The American Wind Energy Association.
Ryan points out big-named Republicans and those that are lesser known are stating their support:
- “It gives us a real leg up on economic development,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican whose state ranks third nationally in wind energy.
- Drew Darby, a Texas state Republican representative whose district encompasses nine counties at the edge of oil country, said the proliferation of cheap wind power since the state spent more than $7 billion on new transmission lines has made him a believer…“Republicans all over the country ought to be paying attention to what Texas did,” Darby said in an interview.
Fast forward to just a few days ago, Associated Press reporter Michael Biesecker continued to drive the point home with his piece “GOP States Benefitting from Shift to Wind and Solar Energy,” again focusing on renewable energy’s affordability:
“…while Republican lawmakers in Washington have fought to protect coal-fired power plants, opposing President Barack Obama’s efforts to curtail climate-warming carbon emissions, data show their home states are often the ones benefiting most from the nation’s accelerating shift to renewable energy.”
…The most dramatic change has been seen in the plummeting cost of emissions-free wind energy, which has declined by two-thirds in the last six years thanks to the availability of cheaper, more efficient turbines. An annual analysis by the investment firm Lazard determined that wind energy is now the lowest-cost energy source, even before federal green-energy tax incentives are factored in.”
Biesecker highlighted how Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has seen the benefits of growing wind farms first-hand for decades:
“Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, among the earliest boosters of government support for wind power, points out that fossil fuels and nuclear plants have long benefited from tax credits. Last month, MidAmerican Energy announced plans to invest another $3.6 billion to add new turbines in Iowa, which already gets about a third of its electricity from the wind. “We’ve seen the economic success story behind renewables up close and personal.”
Constituents in these Republican districts have been sharing the American wind power’s success story in their own words for quite some time. Just check out this video:
Outside of the economic benefits these GOP-heavy districts are seeing, new polling also shows the next generation of voters broadly supports clean energy as a way to create jobs and keep our air clean for their families, according to the Young Conservatives for Clean Energy.
Wind energy is on track to supply 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030 according to a report released last year by the U.S. Department of Energy. With that added growth, both Republican and Democratic districts stand to benefit because wind energy would then support 380,000 jobs and attract billions more dollars in investment.
It’s not a secret any more: American wind power’s benefits are a bipartisan success story. And they’re only getting better.