Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Renewable Energy: The Regional Debate, Part 2

We've spent some time at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) researching the issues raised in my recent post on the question of whether using more wind would unfairly disadvantage less windy states. Here are results from a fact sheet we are sending up to Capitol Hill, where the U.S. Senate will vote tomorrow on the Bingaman Renewable Energy Standard amendment:


Wind energy is currently produced in more states than any conventional electric power fuel source.

All states currently import and export energy sources such as coal and natural gas, to meet each state’s energy needs.

Nearly 40 states currently import natural gas and coal from other states. Under a National 15% [Renewable Energy Standard], some states may have to import renewable energy from other states. However, most states have some indigenous renewable energy sources including wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. States that do not produce sufficient renewable energy have the option of securing market credits to meet renewable energy goals.

Wind and other renewable resources are domestically produced energy sources. The U.S. currently imports 3% of our coal, 19% of our natural gas, and 80% of our uranium from foreign nations.

Four states produce uranium, 28 import it;
25 states produce coal, 39 import it;
32 states produce natural gas, 38 import it;
35 states produce wind power, 10-20 import it.

(In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy found in a 1991 study of wind resources nationwide that 9 additional states, besides the 35 currently producing some wind power, have sufficient wind resources for commercial production, making the total number of potential and actual wind producers 44 of 50 states.)

The Senate will vote tomorrow on the Bingaman amendment. If you support this first meaningful step to fight global warming, contact your Senator's office through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and let him/her know you support the Bingaman Renewable Energy Standard. Or go to powerofwind.com.



Manu Sharma said...

Tom, that's an excellent counter argument. Naturally, all states cannot be rich in all natural resources. While some have plenty of good wind power sites, others have good solar potential and vice versa. If one looks at wind and solar resource maps, it's clear that Eastern US states, especially South Eastern ones, will be at the disadvantage as they are low on both solar and wind resources. But as you said, they can always import it from the other states.

chris said...

In our contemporary cultural rhetorical milieu there are certain words/phrases that have an uncanny effect on folks: "freedom", "democracy", "patriotic", "patriot", etc.

Despite the backlash that the current administration is/has been experiencing as a result of their manipulative rhetorical strategies (i.e. appealing to Americans' "patriotism" to support our fight to preserve our "freedom" against "terror" and bring "democracy" to the Middle East), their tactics offer us a lesson in marketing - and this could be applied to the wind industry.

For example, instead of saying "The most home-grown American energy source" you and the AWEA might label your report "The most Patriotic energy source" or "Democratic Energy for fueling Freedom" or "Freeing America from Terror-Fuels"...
It's clear that some such statements might be overly hyperbolic, but, hey, it works for our the current administration, Fox News, illegal immigrant activist groups, etc. The renewable energy industry might consider tapping into the powerful rhetorical force of such commonplaces.