Green is the New Red

By Elle O’Casey

Just as wind and sunlight cannot be constrained by geographical or political boundaries, the green energy movement transcends partisan and state lines. The adoption of clean energy has taken off across the country and many state and local leaders are stepping up as the progenitors of the movement.

There has been a growing trend of solar and wind power expanding rapidly in traditionally ‘red’ states. According to CNN, “96% of the 46,000 turbines recorded by the FAA in wind farms nationally are located in red counties or in red precincts within blue counties.” Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Oklahoma are leading the nation in wind power (NYTimes).

Solarize Installation in Woodstock area

Solarize Installation in Woodstock area

Take Kansas for example. Last year alone, the state generated nearly one-third of its power from wind and is poised to be the first state in the nation to generate nearly half of its power from wind. Iowa is another state that has taken center stage in the green energy field. Republican governor of Iowa, Sam Brownback, has been a vocal supporter of renewable energy for his state and is currently the Vice Chair and a founding member of the Governor’s Wind & Solar Energy Coalition. Iowa gets more of its energy from wind power than any other state, with nearly 37 percent of its state’s energy coming from wind (Vice News). The state is also is home to green jobs, with 7,000 people employed in the field of wind energy.

Jobs in the renewable energy sector are becoming more prevalent than ever before. America’s coal mines employ just 56,700 people. At their peak, they employed over 550,000 people. The wind industry now employs 77,000 people and solar has roughly 210,000 workers (Fortune). These numbers show how renewable energy spurs job creation and economic growth in many states hungry for job growth and rural investment. The fast growth of wind energy, particularly in red states, can be seen brilliantly here. Despite the US’ exit from the Paris Climate Agreement this month, many states and cities continue to pursue renewable energy as a viable path forward. Wind and solar are working, both as an economic strategy and as a way to reduce greenhouse gases.

A bit closer to home, Sustainable Woodstock’s two recent Solarize campaigns provided the momentum for 44 homeowners to install solar panels, now generating more than 300 Kwh of clean energy annually. The Sustainable Woodstock Energy Group is actively exploring ways to encourage more local renewable energy and they continue to look for a good location for a community solar array.

In a time of partisan divides, focusing on green energy production can be a way to bridge the divide and allow us all to make tangible, sustainable strides toward our future.

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