The green energy revolution is coming -- with or without help from Washington
June 10, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 24.1%. 2 min read.
Wind turbines stand on property used by the Alliant Energy Corp. Whispering Willow Wind Farm in Iowa Falls, Iowa, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. Wind energy, the fastest-growing source of electricity in the U.S., is transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the federal government gave land to homesteaders 150 years ago. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The American clean energy industry is primed for a boom. The only question is whether Washington can help juice the transition.
But even as private industry invests in the future, the speed and scale of its efforts is in the hands of Congress, where Republicans and centrist Democrats are locked in negotiations with the Biden administration over President Joe Biden's ambitious infrastructure plan.
Plans to harness and transport solar and wind energy are multiplying in the Midwest despite a regulatory backup, including one new, high-profile project seeking to connect a line from Mason City, Iowa, to the Chicago area.
"The future is now, and now is the time to build out a national electric grid that can deliver clean energy to the cities and towns that need it," Direct Connect CEO Trey Ward told CNN.
The administration believes it can supercharge the process by offering tax credits to prospective builders, making clean energy projects even more appealing to private industry.
Ward, too, was hesitant to tie the potential of the project -- which he said would create more than 2,000 union jobs in addition to some 4,000 more upstream with the building of feeder wind and solar farms -- to any federal legislation, though companies like his would benefit from the tax credits in Biden's plan.
Republican state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, an avowed conservative and "staunch supporter" of former President Donald Trump, said he's "fully onboard" with the SOO Green plan, in large part because of its approach -- which has been more sensitive than past efforts to locals' land rights.
"Both parties have green infrastructure support systems that could be in a final bill, so I'm not going to sit here and say that I am completely for the Republican plan or opposed to the Biden plan," Kaufmann told CNN.
Darus Zehrbach, president of Z Electric Vehicle, said some of the discussion around the infrastructure bill suggests a disconnect from where he and others in his industry see an opportunity to grow the market.
One-off sales, Zehrbach argued, were a trickier proposition for the government than seeking out municipalities or businesses that might be looking to buy clean energy vehicles in bulk, in part because they cost less to fuel and maintain.