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Monday, November 13, 2006

Election 2006: Renewable Energy-friendly Platforms Perform Well

[From the American Wind Energy Association's Wind Energy Weekly (11/10/06 edition):]

As most of the attention stayed focused throughout the week on national-level elections and the Democratic takeovers of the House and Senate, state candidates with a history of embracing wind power and renewables generally fared well at the polls on Tuesday.

As for the new incoming governors, Colorado governor-elect Bill Ritter (D) stands out as one of the most ardent endorsers of renewables, which he has called a top priority. “Renewable energy is one of Governor-elect Ritter’s primary issues,” InterWest Energy Alliance Director Craig Cox told Wind Energy Weekly. “He sees it as a way of helping rural areas as well as diversifying our energy portfolio.”

In Massachusetts, Deval Patrick (D), who has endorsed the Cape Wind project in his state, became the first African American governor in Massachusetts.

Several incumbents, meanwhile, capitalized on their renewables track records and future agendas to help propel them to victory. Some of those include California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), New Mexico’s Bill Richardson (D), Texas’ Rick Perry (R), Pennsylvania’s Edward Rendell (D), Arizona’s Janet Napolitano (D), and Kansas’ Kathleen Sebelius (D). “Energy will be a very key area,” said Sebelius, alluding to wind power and ethanol in particular. “That will be front and center.”

Wind proponent Perry recently joined industry executives in announcing $10 billion in potential wind farm development in Texas provided the necessary transmission is built (See Wind Energy Weekly #1211). Schwarzenegger recently signed legislation that will make California the first state to place a cap on all greenhouse gas emissions (see Wind Energy Weekly #1206). Richardson, one of several candidates featuring wind power in campaign commercials, is working to create a Renewable Energy Transmission Authority in his state, among other renewables initiatives.

Renewables ballot initiatives also took center stage in some states, achieving mixed results. One big winner: Washington State’s ballot Initiative 937 requiring that 15% of the electricity from the state's largest utilities come from renewable resources by 2020. However, in North Dakota, Fargo voters rejected an initiative to require that 20% of electricity supplied to the city be generated from renewable energy sources by 2020.

On the national level, the wind industry has one of its own headed to Washington. Jerry McNerney (D), a wind power engineer and long-time member of the industry, defeated seven-term Rep. Richard Pombo (R) in a race for Pombo’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. “Jerry has been a long-time and very well-respected member of the wind energy community,” said AWEA Executive Director Randy Swisher. “We look forward to having him with us in Washington.”

Other pro-wind candidates proved victorious on the national level, among them Ed Perlmutter (D), who was elected to represent Colorado’s Seventh Congressional District. Perlmutter replaced Bob Beauprez (R), who lost the gubernatorial race in the state.

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