Fact check: The real story? State RPSs hold strong

Was Monday opposite day for Bloomberg News? Because the status of state renewable portfolio standards across the country is the opposite of what Bloomberg's recent headline suggests.

In fact, most states are standing firm on their firm on their renewable portfolio standards–with some considering increases–while natural gas prices are on the rise.

Challenges to renewable energy standards in Kansas and North Carolina are failing, and states such as Colorado and Minnesota are working on legislation that would actually increase renewable requirements–a significant detail that Bloomberg overlooked.

Also, as major national news outlets such as the Washington Post have reported, and Bloomberg agrees, rollback efforts have generally been led by groups representing the interests of other energy sources–not by citizens protesting renewable energy.

As Kansas State Representative Nile Dillmore observed recently, “It is strange that an out-of-state research group would be testifying and writing letters to the editor against [Kansas’s] renewable-energy development. The Beacon Hill Institute, a Massachusetts-based think-tank, seems to think it has an interest in our state’s mix of electricity generation. Whose economic interest is the institute protecting?”

State legislatures recognize that purchases of renewable energy such as wind power provide price stability for consumers. Wind power’s long-term fixed-price contracts provide price certainty that fossil fuel markets cannot.

This benefit was recently affirmed by a report from accounting firm Ernst and Young and data from the Energy Information Agency which show that natural gas prices are on the rise, recently hitting their highest mark in two years. That price fluctuation underscores the importance of supporting renewable energy standards that protect the consumer.

Public support has also been consistently strong for renewable energy policies. According to a poll by Fallon Research, nearly 80 percent of voters polled in Ohio support laws requiring the state to produce a portion of its electricity from clean energy sources like solar and wind. Similarly, in North Carolina, a recent poll showed more than 75 percent of residents support developing more renewable energy and alternative sources such as energy efficiency.

In all, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have now enacted renewable energy standards. And there is a strong business case for keeping those renewable standards in place. In fact, a recent USA Today article noted that an uptick in the entire U.S. Gross Domestic Product in the fourth quarter of 2012 was attributable to new wind development.

The economic boon is ever more important for many states, as our country still struggles to regain economic momentum coming out of the recent financial crisis. For example, in North Carolina, a February 2013 Research Triangle Institute study found the state’s “clean energy and energy efficiency programs […] spurred $1.4 billion in project investment statewide between 2007 and 2012.” In Kansas, wind power installations brought $3 billion in new investment last year – fed by a strong renewable standard.

With all of that economic development from renewable energy, it should be no surprise that North Carolina business leaders have not been pleased with the attacks on renewable standards, as they recognize that weakening or repealing these successful standards would hurt economic growth.

Finding policies that create jobs that can’t be outsourced is often a difficult task, and renewable energy standards, together with American wind power, are part of the solution.

Wind power was the number one source of new electricity generation added last year, as private investors flocked to the industry, spending $25 billion in development. Now nearly 70 percent of every wind turbine installed in the U.S. is produced domestically.

As a result, the wind manufacturing chain now encompasses 550 facilities across 44 states and 80,000 Americans work in the wind industry. These well-paid jobs demonstrate what those thousands of workers already know: state renewable energy standards work.

Related articles:

North Carolina business leaders alarmed by attack on renewable energy, April 16, 2013
Fact check: Attack by Locke Foundation's Sanders on N.C. RPS relies on flawed data, April 3, 2013
Action alert: Stand up for Kansas wind power, February 26, 2013
Investor opinion: Colorado can lead in renewable energy, February 19, 2013
Kansas interfaith group says: Maintain state renewable standard, February 13, 2013
Wisconsin PSC: RPS has economic benefits, negligible rate impact, June 25, 2012
California PUC: Renewable energy procurement up in 2011, costs falling, February 8, 2012

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