Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington and Republican Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa have sent a letter on behalf of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition calling on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee to reverse its decision to hamper long-term investment in research advancing American wind power.
The governors’ letter was sent to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran and Vice Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski and refers to funding in the 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill set for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) budget and used for research and technology innovation that has helped lower wind power’s costs by 66 percent in the last six years according to the American Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
“The nation’s long-term investment in research conducted by DOE’s energy programs, National Laboratories, our state universities, and private companies around the nation has helped fuel the extraordinary growth of the nation’s wind energy industry,” the letter states. “As governors, we see the benefits this innovative research has brought to our states, including energy diversification and continual wealth generation in rural America.”
AWEA states that cutting funding for wind energy research could leave untapped opportunities for new wind farm development and the economic benefits that come with it. A move that would affect all 50 states according to the letter, especially the Southeast. Another area of concern is the bill’s elimination of funding for grid modernization restrains the U.S. from capitalizing on the full range of economic and environmental benefits gained by diversifying the U.S. electricity mix with homegrown wind energy.
“These states’ Chief Executive Officers are telling Congress that their decision to hinder wind power’s growth hurts their state economies,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “We support the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition in urging Congress to restore funding for research that has helped improve wind power’s technology and bring more of wind’s low-cost benefits to American families and businesses.”