Wind And Solar Cheer US Election Results

The American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries of America, the leading groups for the most important renewable energy industries in the country, were feeling pretty good in the wake of Tuesday’s elections.

Both groups issued press releases on Wednesday, with the AWEA putting its focus on the success of candidates who supported the production tax credit, which the organization now believes has a good chance of being extended before its Jan. 1, 2013, expiration, and the SEIA taking advantage of the opportunity to heap copious praise upon President Obama.

solar wind new electrical generating capacity

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“We heard a lot about wind energy in this election, and it proved to be a winning issue because it is so popular with the American people,” AWEA CEO Denise Bode said. “As just one measure, an overwhelming majority of the members supported by our political action committee, WindPAC, won their races.”

The group noted that “(s)wing states with numerous wind farms as well as wind factories were carried in the election by President Obama, whose campaign took the position that Congress should extend the wind energy production tax credit.”

The AWEA said that of the dozen newly elected U.S. senators, seven were backed by its political action committee, and that 89 percent of WindPAC-backed senatorial candidates won on Tuesday. The group also noted that 87 of the 119 House members who supported a bill that would extend the PTC through 2016 won reelection – including 14 Republicans.

Wind power was a bit of a surprise issue in the campaign. A year ago it looked like the Solyndra bankruptcy would dominate the clean-energy discussion, but that issue seemed to have less potency than support for the wind industry, especially in states where the imminent demise of the PTC is already causing job losses. Mitt Romney’s opposition to the PTC certainly didn’t help him in two swing states – Colorado, which he lost by a 51 percent to 47 percent margin, and Iowa, which he lost by a 52-47 margin.

The SEIA doesn’t have an issue comparable to the PTC on the table but has a big stake in continued support from Washington for solar power, which enjoys a hefty investment tax credit among other subsidies.

“President Obama has been a tremendous supporter of solar energy and we look forward to continuing to work with the Obama Administration over the next four years,” CEO Rhone Resch said. “Policy certainty is crucial to continue the growing role of solar in America’s energy mix.  Stable policy frameworks at the federal and state level, including maintaining and expanding commitments to renewable energy initiatives, spur and leverage private sector investments in the solar industry to meet our nation’s future energy needs.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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