Red America Should Love Green Energy Spending – The Washington Post

by | Aug 2, 2022 | Energy

Comment on this storyCommentGift ArticleThe standard political color code for renewable energy holds that green mixes with blue but clashes with red. A detailed look at local realities says otherwise.Enersection, a new company based in Houston specializing in data-driven insights on the US energy system, has presented them in compelling charts and other graphics (you can access its site here). Bloomberg Opinion partnered with co-founder Jeff Davies to take a deep dive into the energy and emissions landscape at the congressional district level, using data from the Energy Information Administration’s monthly electricity report (EIA 860-M).The picture that emerges will probably surprise you.The House minority leader and likely Republican speaker-in-waiting, Kevin McCarthy, has complained that Democrats prefer to leave US oil and gas resources in the ground, even if it means begging for “batteries from China.”AdvertisementNothing particularly earth-shattering there. What’s interesting, though, is that a lot of those begged-for batteries look set to land in California’s 23rd Congressional District, represented by McCarthy. Indeed, geolocating the EIA data shows that his district ranks No. 1 in the nation for planned and operating grid-battery projects. McCarthy’s district also ranks first for planned and operating utility-scale solar capacity and second when you combine wind, solar and batteries. That is one green deep-red district.McCarthy’s district captures a broad disconnect between facts on the ground and political identities when it comes to green energy.Moving further to the right, there is Colorado’s 3rd District, represented by Lauren Boebert. In January 2021, she responded to the US re-entry into the Paris Agreement by tweeting that she works “for the people of Pueblo, not the people of Paris.” Ironic, really, since Pueblo, one of the biggest cities in her district, has a 100% renewable electricity target and is emerging as a regional clean energy hub. Overall, Boebert’s district ranks 16th of the 435 districts for planned renewable energy capacity.AdvertisementElsewhere in Congress and in Colorado is Diana DeGette, the Democratic representative of the state’s 1st District and chair of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigation. At just 23 megawatts, her district barely registers in terms of planned and operating solar, wind and battery capacity. Meanwhile, DeGette’s fellow Democrat Kathy Castor, who chairs the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, represents Florida’s solidly blue 14th District — which ranks 354th in the nation.Enersection’s detailed district-level graphics are accessible here for desktop users. On just about any metric you care to look at, the green transition’s physical assets are more often found on red ground than on blue.The most obvious reason for this is the ground itself.Wind offers the best example. The best place to put up turbines is where there’s lots of open space and the wind blows really hard. Just 10 states roughly between the Mississippi River and the Rockies account for 80% of US onshore wind-power potential, and that region skews red: Seventy percent of the House districts in those states have Republican representatives.(1)AdvertisementRural and semirural districts offer more open, and cheaper, spaces to site electricity infrastructure than do the urban and suburban areas that tend to vote blue. Even within states that tilt blue, wind capacity tends to be built in districts with Republican representatives. Of the top 15 districts for existing and planned wind capacity in states won by Joe Biden in 2020, 13 are red. Using the Bloomberg CityLab Congressional Density Index, Enersection mapped the location of green energy projects to House districts, segmented by type. Rural and rural-suburban areas dominate for solar and, especially, wind projects. Batteries, with greater variability in terms …

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