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Recent Polling Shows Overwhelming Support for Clean Energy

Posted By Lowell F. on April 9th, 2015

We’ve known for a long time that Americans strongly support clean energy, but every so often it’s good to see brand-new polling that reaffirms this finding. Two recent polls in particular jumped out at us, one produced for Clean Edge and SolarCity, the other by Gallup. Here are a few key findings.

  • According to the Clean Edge/SolarCity polling, Americans by a 61%-24% margin are opposed to electric utilities “being able to charge an additional fee for solar powered homes and businesses.”
  • By an enormous 78%-9% margin, Americans believe it is important for the U.S. “to be a global leader in developing and deploying solar energy systems.” And by a nearly unanimous 87%-7% margin, Americans said that renewable energy is important to America’s future.
  • By a 74%-12% margin, U.S. homeowners “back the continuation of federal tax incentives that support the growth of solar and wind.”
  • The Clean Edge/SolarCity polling finds that support for natural gas declines with age: 43% of those over 70, compared to just 33% of those between 35 and 54, and just 27% of those in the 18-24 age range.
  • Asked which energy sources people think are “most important to America’s energy future,” solar power came out on top (50% of homeowners agreed), with wind power second (42%), and energy efficiency (25) also in the top four.  Near the bottom of the list, in constrast were coal (8%) and oil (17%).
  • Gallup’s polling also found overwhelming support for clean energy, with Americans wanting more emphasis on solar power (79%-9%) and wind power (70%-14%). That support is across the political spectrum, by the way, with Republicans wanting more emphasis on solar power (70%) and wind (63%).
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New Poll: Likely 2016 Voters Want Shift to Solar, Wind; Away from Coal, Oil

Posted By Lowell F. on January 16th, 2015

Despite the fossil fuel industry’s well-funded efforts over many years to turn the American public against clean energy, a new poll by Hart Research of likely 2016 voters finds overwhelming support for clean energy.  Check out the graphics below and see for yourself: likely 2016 voters want the federal government to rely more on solar power by a 71-point margin (80%-9%), and to rely more on wind power by a 59-point margin (73%-14%). In stark contrast, those same likely voters want the federal government to rely less on coal by a 34-point margin (55%-21%) and less on oil by a 29-points margin (53%-24%). You can’t much clearer than that.

Also note that likely 2016 voters overwhelmingly do NOT support anti-environmental policies such as weakening protections for our drinking water supplies and clean air; allowing oil and gas drilling in national forests/parks. Again, you can’t get much clearer than that. The question is, what will it take for anti-clean-energy, pro-fossil-fuel members of Congress get the message?

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New Study: Clean Offshore Wind Power Would Create More Jobs than Dirty, Dangerous Offshore Oil Drilling in Virginia, Mid-Atlantic

Posted By Lowell F. on January 14th, 2015

For anyone who thinks that dirty, dangerous, polluting offshore oil drilling is the answer to our energy and economic challenges, or that offshore wind power is not the answer, check out this new report by Oceana and find out how mistaken that belief is. A few key points from this report include the following (note: we’re focusing on Virginia mainly because Tigercomm is located in that state, but the report finds similar, or even better, results for many other East Coast states — North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maine).

*”…many of the arguments made about the benefits of offshore drilling do not stand up to scrutiny, and the benefits of offshore wind prove to be greater and available over a longer period of time.”
*”The oil industry’s estimates are often based on unrealistic assumptions about the job growth potential of developing oil and gas.”
*”On the other hand, developing even a modest amount of available offshore wind resources would be a far better strategy to lead the U.S. toward energy independence, while generating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
*”Unlike offshore drilling, offshore wind provides power directly to coastal communities without resulting in pollution, carbon dioxide emissions or spills.”
*”The Atlantic has minimal fossil fuel resources compared to other regions used or being considered for domestic oil and gas production,” so little that “oil consumption could actually only be met for 132 days and gas consumption for only 283 days.” Pitiful.
*”A modest and gradual development of offshore wind on the East Coast could generate up to 143 gigawatts of power over the next 20 years, which is enough to power over 115 million households.
*”In the next 20 years on the U.S. East Coast, offshore wind could create about 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling, which is about double the job creation potential.”
*”In just 13 years of producing energy, offshore wind could generate more energy than could be provided by all of the economically recoverable offshore oil and gas resources.”
*”Along the Atlantic coast, nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation (and those would be put at serious risk by offshore oil drilling).
*Virginia has 11.3 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind power potential. To put that in perspective, Virginia as of 2012 had 5.2 GW of coal-fired generating capacity and 5.7 GW of natural-gas fired generating capacity — slightly less, combined, than Virginia’s offshore wind power potential.
*Offshore wind would create 15,456 jobs in Virginia, 1 1/2 times greater than the 10,295 jobs offshore oil drilling would create, but again without the risk of environmental damage.
*Also keep in mind that when the oil runs out, the jobs run out too. In stark contrast, wind power will never run out, which means that the jobs will also never run out. All “without the risk of a catastrophic oil spill.” Is this a no brainer or what?

One more point: offshore wind power is booming in many places around the world, just not here in the United States, thanks to our wildly biased, pro-fossil-fuel energy policies. For instance, in Europe, as of the end of 2013 there were “2,080 turbines…installed and grid connected, making a cumulative total of 6,562 MW, in 69 wind farms in eleven European countries.” During the first half of 2014, another 781 MW of offshore wind power came online in Europe, with 1,200 MW more awaiting grid connection. All told, in Europe, the “total capacity of all the wind farms under construction is over 4,900 MW when fully commissioned.”

The results of this offshore wind power boom in Europe? See U.K. And Germany Smash Wind Power Records for an idea: “wind generated enough electricity to power just over 25 percent of U.K. homes in 2014;” “Scotland hopes to generate the equivalent of 100 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020.” Also see Denmark Sets World Record For Wind Power Production and Germany & Denmark Join Britain In Smashing Wind Energy Records and UK Offshore Wind Installations Forecast to Soar and…getting the picture?

In short, Europe is putting the United States to shame when it comes to offshore wind power. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way; the U.S. has enormous wind resources — as the Oceana report points out, “enough to power over 115 million households” — so this is mostly a political issue. Finally, note that offshore wind costs are plummeting, with Siemens recently projecting “a 40% drop in the price of offshore wind…within the next 10 years, or 30% at the least.” Again, what are we waiting for exactly? Simple: for our political system to shake off the grip of the fossil fuel lobby and to embrace the enormous clean energy potential of the 21st century!

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Sen. Chuck Grassley: Wind Energy Opponents Ignore “many tax credits” Fossil Fuels Receive

Posted By Lowell F. on December 11th, 2014

We don’t usually (or ever, come to think of it) link to the anti-environment, anti-clean-energy, pro-dirty-energy Daily Caller, but this op-ed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is just too good to ignore.  According to Grassley:

  • “It seems as though opponents of wind energy try at every turn to undermine this industry. They portray the wind energy production tax credit as clutter that doesn’t belong in the tax code. But they conveniently forget the many tax credits that benefit other energy industries as permanent law, when wind energy is fortunate to receive a year or two extension at a time.
  • “…just because we haven’t cleaned up the tax code in a comprehensive way doesn’t mean that we should pull the rug out from under domestic renewable energy producers. Doing so would cost jobs and harm our economy, the environment and our national security.
  • Wind energy supports tens of thousands of American jobs, it has spurred billions of dollars in private investment in the United States, and it displaces more expensive and more polluting sources of energy. More than 70 percent of a U.S. wind turbine’s value is now produced in the United States, compared to just 25 percent prior to 2005.”
  • I don’t understand the argument that repealing a subsidy for oil or gas or nuclear energy production is a tax increase on energy producers and consumers, while repealing an incentive for alternative or renewable energy is not. It’s not intellectually honest.”
  • “…any phase-out [of tax credits for wind power] should be done in the context of comprehensive tax reform, where all energy tax provisions are on the table. And it should be done responsibly over a few years, to provide certainty and ensure a viable industry.”

Again, we never thought we’d promote a piece from the Daily Caller, given how slavishly hypocritical that publication is on the fossil fuel welfare bums. But we’re glad to see Sen. Grassley calling them out for their blatant hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty when it comes to wind power.

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New Fact Sheet Illustrates Southeastern U.S.’ Enormous Wind Power Potential

Posted By Lowell F. on December 9th, 2014

In 2013, the southeastern U.S. produced 1,171 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity. Of that, 67.7% was generated using health-and-environment-harming coal and natural gas, with another 25% produced by expensive nuclear power plants. Only 2.2% was generated by “other renewables,” and almost none of that was solar or wind. Yet, according to this new fact sheet from the Southeastern Wind Coalition, the southeastern U.S. has the potential within just 5-10 years to produce 6,234 TWh/year more than five times the entire amount of electricity the southeastern U.S. generated in 2013.

Impressive. Along those same lines, also note:

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), just four states (VA, NC, SC, and GA) have about 63% of the total East Coast offshore wind resource in less than 30 meters of water. If we look at resource greater than 12 miles offshore and in less than 30 meters of water, those same four states have 82% of the East Coast resource.

NREL estimates the technical potential within 50 miles of the coast of VA, NC, SC, and GA to be about 583 gigawatts, which which is equal to about two times the electricity demand of every coastal state from Maine to Florida. This region has the potential to be a significant exporter of offshore wind energy.

In sum, not only could the southeastern U.S. produce all of its power from wind, it could produce enough to export, potentially earning billions of dollars for the regional economy. Of course, offshore wind power is more expensive than onshore wind power, but as with everything else, costs will come down sharply once we start building “to scale” (see this study for some thoughts on that topic). Also keep in mind that wind power emits no health-and-environment-damaging pollution, whether we’re talking about greenhouses gases, toxic substances of various kinds, particulates, whatever. Offshore wind power doesn’t require removing the tops of mountains. It doesn’t “spill” like oil does. It doesn’t contaminate our water supplies or require massive amounts of water to produce it, as “fracked” natural gas does (in fact, wind power requires ZERO water to produce). It’s not even an “eyesore,” since it would be located well offshore.

So what’s the holdup? Basically, it’s two major things: 1) counterproductive, dysfunctional, nonsensical, or to be nice “suboptimal” public policy, which massively subsidizes fossil fuels, while tilting the playing field in a myriad of other ways (e.g., not correcting for market failure by imposing a sizable tax on fossil fuel’s pollution) against clean energy and in favor of dirty energy; and 2) the fact that offshore wind power currently costs somewhat more than heavily-subsidized, non-internalized fossil fuels (although, on that point, see the graph below regarding cost trends for onshore wind vs. natural gas).

Of course, to correct #2, we need to fix #1. And that will require our political leaders to realize what a huge opportunity their states are missing due to the failure to exploit their tremendous wind power potential. Let’s hope that fact sheets like this one will help to change their minds.

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