Just when California is about to start closing the gap with Texas and Iowa in the amount of wind energy it produces, there’s a move afoot by out-of-state oil companies to pull the rug out from under us and thwart the development of these projects.
Located in more than 10 California counties and totaling 3,000 MW in capacity (enough to power about a million homes, and much more in the pipeline), these projects will more than double the current amount of wind energy in our state. In addition, they will create more than 3,000 construction jobs and hundreds of permanent operations jobs, in addition to indirect jobs.
For example, some of the turbine towers will be built at a manufacturing plant in Fontana in San Bernardino County. Hundreds of other jobs will also go into the development of needed transmission infrastructure. These are quality, high-wage jobs, employing Californians of all skill levels — from engineers to manufacturers, laborers to biologists, real estate professionals to crane operators.
These projects will also generate on the order of $60 million in property taxes every year – obviously a benefit as the economy has taken its toll on local governments.
The wind industry is concerned about oil companies spending millions of dollars on a ballot proposition to overturn our clean energy laws because these laws are what attracted this unprecedented level of clean energy development to the state. Our companies based their investments on the state’s regulatory policies, and they need regulatory certainty to maintain their investment. Gutting AB 32 would send a very bad message to this emerging market.
While the effects of climate change may be less obvious, voters have been reminded lately of the other dangers of fossil fuels — the oil spill in the Gulf Coast, the recent coal mine disaster – graphically demonstrating why we need to move away from fossil fuels and shift to cleaner, home-grown, modern technologies such as wind energy. And right here at home, California is host to some of the worst air pollution in the nation because of our reliance on fossil fuels. Over 91 percent of Californians live in counties that were assigned failing air quality grades by the American Lung Association (ALA).
Wind energy, of course, produces electricity without emitting any pollutants or greenhouse gases at all, it uses no water, requires no mining or drilling for fuel, and poses no national security threats.
We need to maintain the wind industry’s substantial investments in California to clean up our air. If this proposition were to pass, it would put a serious damper on our progress. That’s why the California Wind Energy Association strongly opposes the Dirty Energy Proposition, and we’ve made defeating it a high priority this year.