-Mark Drury, Senior Director
It would appear the development of new renewable energy technology and Wall Street’s embrace of low-carbon energy markets is outstripping the ability of policymakers in the U.S. to see fundamental change coming.
This week, two significant stories rolled out which give an indication of just how much innovation is coming out of the renewable energy sector these days. First, GE unveiled a new, larger, land-based wind turbine which enables the most efficient energy generation in the industry. These 500-foot tall turbines have 250-foot blades which allow them to generate electricity in even low-to-moderate wind generating environments. This new generation of wind turbine is able to do this while emitting only about 104 decibels of sound, a new industry standard for quiet.
The second story, by the Wall Street Journal, showed that of all the wind generation capacity launched in 2016, 90 percent of the new investment happened in red states won by Donald Trump. The Journal also noted that employment in the wind industry has now topped 100,000 workers, roughly double that of the coal industry. Iowa, for example, now generates 1/3 of the energy it uses from wind and that shift has resulted in the placement of new data centers from Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Indiana is using a wind-power strategy to lure companies with aggressive sustainability goals. In fact, officials in Benton County, Ind. believe investment in wind energy from companies like BP, Orion, Patten and EDF largely insulated their community from the impact of the 2007 recession.
Calvert Street Group is working hard with our client, Clean Line Energy Partners to share the potential of wind energy on Tennessee’s economy. Clean Line hopes to link wind energy generated in Oklahoma to the TVA distribution grid, making cheaper, more sustainable electricity available to Tennessee communities. The result would be lower electrical bills for Tennessee ratepayers and a new revenue stream for TVA as its passes along renewable energy to East Coast distributors like Duke, Southern and others. Our goal is help TVA, which just instituted a 1.5% rate hike on its customers, understand a sustainable future is in all our interests.