On February 13, 2017, a bipartisan coalition of 20 US governors published a letter imploring President Donald Trump to support the renewables industry. The group highlighted the wide impact the industry has across the nation, employing hundreds of thousands of Americans and transforming low-income and rural communities. The Governors highlight four ways in which Congress and the Trump administration could help the renewables industry.
First, grid modernization and transmission development. The Governors argued that any national infrastructure package should provide significant funding for grid modernization to address the electrical transmission challenges created by large expansions of renewable generation across the country. To implement and streamline the grid modernization process, the governors suggested that the administration create a state-federal task force to work with FERC and the National Laboratories.
Second, adopt comprehensive long-term offshore wind development legislation. With only one offshore wind project active in the United States (the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island), the room for growth in this relatively untapped market is exponential. As evidence, the letter cites the DOE 2015 Wind Vision Report which found that the country could install and support 22 GW of new offshore wind by 2030, and as much as 86 GW by 2050 which could mean thousands of jobs around the nation. The letter also addressed some of the unique tax challenges that offshore wind facilities have to contend with and asked the President to support an extension of the ITC.
Third, increase appropriations for wind and solar research and development. Highlighting the importance of research and development to the nation’s continued growth, the letter reiterates how new distribution facilities, storage options, controls and end-use technologies improve economic competitiveness.
Finally, streamline and improve collaboration for permitting solar and wind energy projects. Aligning with one of President Trump’s campaign promises of rolling back difficult permitting and regulatory requirements, the Governors highlight some of the difficulties for wind and solar due to wildlife regulations. They argue that as wildlife-friendly projects with mitigation efforts, renewable generation should be allowed to advance.
The letter was published by the Governor’s Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, led by Rhode Island’s Gina Raimondo (Democrat) and Kansas’ Sam Brownback (Republican). Governors supporting the letter include those from Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia and Washington.