AWEA, RENEW Applaud New England Governors’ Resolution to Procure Renewable Energy

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and its regional partner, Renewable Energy New England (RENEW), applauded the New England Governors’ Conference for unanimously passing a resolution to coordinate regional renewable energy procurement and directing the release of a request for proposal (RFP) for renewable energy next year.

Specifically, the resolution charges the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) with developing and implementing a work plan on behalf of the New England Governors that will result in the release of an RFP for renewable energy in 2013—allowing six states to capture economies of scale by joining together to secure power contracts. The resolution, proposed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, is the culmination of years of work led by NESCOE on behalf of the New England Governors.

The news came during what has turned out to be a great week for New England renewable energy. In Massachusetts, the state legislature approved an expansion of the Green Communities Act, which currently requires that 3 percent of the state’s electricity be procured by the utilities using long-term renewable energy contracts. The new legislation raises that target to 7 percent by 2016.

Massachusetts Governor Patrick Signs the 2012 Energy Bill.

“This is an historic week for renewable energy in New England,” said RENEW Executive Director Francis Pullaro. “The New England Governors’ unanimous vote was a resounding ‘yes’ to more renewable energy, more jobs, and lower-cost electricity for New England. We thank the governors, along with Massachusetts leadership, for their hard work and vision on this key issue for our region.”

“Congratulations to the New England Governors and all six New England states for embracing the multiple economic and other benefits of renewable energy,” said Christy Omohundro, regional representative for the East at AWEA. “Wind power gives regions all across America affordable, stably priced power, and so we thank New England’s governors and legislators for their leadership and vision in helping to implement strong policy that creates jobs and generates affordable electricity.”

Fittingly, in little over a month, AWEA will be holding its Regional Wind Energy Summit – New England, which will take place Sept. 5-6, 2012 in Portland, Maine. The implications of the newly minted state and regional policies are sure to be major topics of discussion at the event. AWEA recently saw a need for regional events as a way for participants to focus on topics affecting their particular region while saving time and travel costs. The concept has taken off, and the Portland event will be the first Summit to focus on the New England region.

Support the American Renewable Energy PTC Extension Act of 2011

Help extend the wind industry’s top policy driver, the federal production tax credit (PTC), for four years. Encourage your representative to cosponsor H.R. 3077, The American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act of 2011.

America needs homegrown energy resources to power the nation and with our economy struggling, we’re in dire need of American jobs. Wind energy delivers in both of these areas. The PTC has been instrumental in helping the wind industry to:

• Lower the cost of wind power by more than 90%
• Foster economic development in all 50 states
• Manufacture components for wind turbines at over 400 U.S. manufacturing facilities
• Power the equivalent of 10 million American homes

Facing the threat of the PTC expiring, wind project developers are hesitant to plan future U.S. projects and American manufacturers have seen a marked decrease in orders. Job layoffs have already begun. The wind industry is facing the recurrence of the boom-bust cycle it saw in previous years when the PTC was allowed to expire. In the years following expiration, installations dropped by between 73 and 93 percent, resulting in significant job losses.

The PTC is a tax incentive that helps keep electricity rates low and encourages development of proven clean energy projects. The PTC will expire in 2012 unless Congress takes action. Failure to extend the PTC will lead to thousands of job losses and put the brakes on the vast progress we’ve made as a nation toward making clean, affordable, homegrown wind energy part of the U.S. electricity portfolio.

Massachusetts Wind Siting Reform Bills Will Increase Wind Development and Maintain Local Control

RENEW’s Executive Director testified in Barnstable before the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy in favor of the wind siting reform bills (H1775 and S1666 and H1759). The legislation will set permitting standards for wind generators that come as close as possible in efficiency as those for large conventional power plants while striking the right balance on local control. Local permitting authorities will continue to apply local ordinances under a new streamlined approval processes.

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