The end of today will be like most other days. I will sit outside on my deck and enjoy the sun setting with a breeze whispering through the trees. In the horizon I will see the wind turbine on the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community property. At 386 feet from the foundation to the tip of a blade fully extended vertically, the wind turbine is the equivalent of a 38-story building. The 1.5-megawatt wind turbine is visible for miles and churns out enough power for almost all SMSC’s residential energy demands.
A record amount of wind capacity is now under construction at wind farms across America, according to second-quarter results released by the American Wind Energy Association. A single new American wind turbine represents 2.32 megawatts of capacity on average, roughly enough to power 750 typical homes. Strong demand for low-cost wind power from utilities and other buyers, including major corporations like AT&T and Walmart, continue to drive the industry’s growth.
Wind power is also great for local economies: The wind industry employs more than 3,000 people in Minnesota, providing them family-supporting wages; wind and solar farms pay roughly $14 million a year to Minnesota counties for roads and schools. Clean-energy investments create jobs for builders, technicians, engineers, clerical employeesj and maintenance workers.
Major corporations understand the risks of climate change to their businesses. They want to be a part of the solution and are demanding clean energy from their providers. Businesses aren’t the only ones that can join this revolution. Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative and Xcel Energy offer programs where homeowners can subscribe to wind energy. At our home we subscribe to wind energy via MVEC’s Green Source program. For an extra $1 per month our entire energy needs are covered with wind energy.
Wind energy has synergies with electric cars and the transportation industry is positioning itself to take advantage of it. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, built the company with a mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Tesla gets many headlines with its cars, including the Model 3, yet General Motors and Nissan are laying sustainable transportation futures with the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf.
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors recently wrote, “…while a zero-emissions future will not happen overnight, we are moving aggressively to get there. We are well on our way to introducing 20 new all-electric vehicle models globally by 2023. Climate change is real. We recognize the transportation sector is a contributor, and we must be part of the solution. At General Motors, we take this challenge seriously.”
Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault-Nissan, shares a similar view writing, “Combating climate change is the key mission of our generation, particularly for those of us in the auto industry. Electric vehicles offer the most immediate, affordable way to reduce (carbon monoxide) emissions and clean our air. We’re at a turning point today, at which EVs are becoming a viable option to more and more drivers. The rapidly declining cost of batteries, improving driving range and an expanding charging infrastructure are all factors. In addition, more automakers plan to introduce EVs, which in turn will stimulate more interest and demand among consumers.”
T he future of sustainable transportation is here today: electric vehicles powered by the wind. On Saturday, Aug. 11, from 8 a.m. to noon, the volunteers of the Scott County Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby will be at the Prior Lake Farmers Market. The market is in downtown Prior Lake and we’ll have information on how you can subscribe your home to wind energy through MVEC or Xcel Energy and ask questions about electric vehicles. We’ll have three all-electric vehicles, owned by residents in the community, on display: a Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3.
The transportation industry, utilities, and businesses show that we don’t need to shrink into climate science denial. There are solutions to solving climate change. Businesses are leading the way and individuals can join them. The challenge is to accelerate the path we are on and that means Congress needs to pass bipartisan legislation to enable more innovation. Doing so will lead to more locally-made clean energy, cleaner air and a larger economy that’s better for families, our children, and future generations.
Citizens’ Climate Lobby has a very specific policy to unlock this larger economy — carbon fee and dividend. After you have finished asking your questions about electric vehicles and wind energy we invite you to ask us questions about our non-partisan volunteer organization and the carbon fee and dividend policy we advocate for.