Workforce Development Issues for the Expansion of Wind Energy in the U.S.

Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States was released by the White House on March 12, providing an overview of the U.S. wind industry and projections for the future. Analysis focuses on greenhouse gas (GHG) and pollution reductions, electricity price impacts, job and manufacturing trends, and water and land use impacts – for the years 2020, 2030, and 2050. The study provides a roadmap of actions to achieve a goal of 35% wind energy in the U.S. by 2050, at which time the wind industry would employ more than 600,000 people. Workforce development is one of nine core topics in the roadmap, detailed in item M8 of the Appendix.  The workforce development recommendations build on previous research published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 2012, National Skills Assessment of the U.S. Wind Industry by Levanthal and Tegen.

Clean Electricity in Alberta Means Less Reliance on Coal

While the government of Alberta continues to develop its Alternative and Renewable Energy Policy Framework, a new report from the Pembina Institute and Clean Energy Canada argues that “With effective policy, the province could cut the percentage of grid electricity that is supplied from coal energy from over 60 per cent today to less than four per cent by 2033.” (p.1) According to the report, in 2013, coal power generation supplied 63.7 per cent of electricity in Alberta’s grid (compared to 39.1 per cent of the in the United States). And whereas total coal power generation in the United States decreased by 21.3 per cent between 2007 and 2013, it decreased by only 13 per cent in Alberta. (p.4). See Power to Change: How Alberta can Green its Grid and Embrace Clean Energy at http://www.pembina.org/docs/power-to-change-pembina-cec-2014.pdf with a backgrounder at http://www.pembina.org/docs/power-to-change-pembina-cec-backgrounder.pdf . Earlier in 2014, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment commissioned a survey which revealed that 80% of Albertans agreed that wind energy should be used to reduce reliance on coal-fired power in the province. See the CAPE Newsletter (Summer 2014) at http://cape.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/capenewsummer2014.pdf . And on May 23, a public opinion commissioned by the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance, in conjunction with the Pembina Institute, reported that 76 per cent of Albertans support the stronger greenhouse gas performance regulations for industrial facilities. See the Ipsos Reid poll at http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=6509 .

U.S. Proposals to Encourage Large-scale Wind Power

The costs and benefits of developing a commercial-scale offshore wind industry in the United States are explored in a report released on February 28. Policy recommendations are: accelerate the existing “Smart from the Start” program, enact the proposed Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act; establish a carbon tax, and roll back fossil fuel subsidies. Making the Economic Case for Offshore Wind was commissioned by the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy States Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative, and conducted by the Brattle Group, a consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Read it at:  http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/report/2013/02/28/54988/making-the-economic-case-for-offshore-wind/