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29 governors ask Obama and Congress for stronger wind power measures

March 16, 2010 | 12:33 pm

A bipartisan coalition of 29 governors is pushing to solidify a national standard for renewable power to boost green job creation, environmentally friendly economic development and energy independence.

In a report delivered Tuesday to President Obama and Congress, the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition asked lawmakers to require utilities to obtain at least 10% of their electricity from alternative energy such as wind, solar and biofuels by 2012.

The absence of a long-term nationwide mandate and the jumble of varying state standards complicates business for renewable power companies and chases investments abroad, according to the governors, mostly representing the Northeast, Midwest and Western states.

The coalition, which includes California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, also asked for an expanded interstate power transmission system.

Major high-voltage lines, instead of a tangled network of smaller ones, would better deliver power from windy or sunny areas to population centers and regions with fewer renewable resources, the governors said. With private-sector investment and a national policy to coordinate a web of state and regional regulations, siting and construction would be easier, they said.

Other requests included boosting research into coastal, deep-water and offshore wind technology, which the governors fear is being dominated by Europe and China. They also asked that the government streamline the permitting process for wind projects.

Congress should also extend an economic stimulus program that offers grants for wind projects and stretch a wind energy production tax credit for at least five years as an incentive for investment, the coalition said.

“We don’t want these things to get caught up in a broader debate and discussion that will only slow us down,” said the coalition's chairman, Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, in a conference call with reporters. “There is urgency. We need to separate out these very basic, common-sense goals related to maximizing our country’s potential in renewable energy and creating jobs.” 

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: High-tension power lines shuttle power to the Los Angeles area as a wind turbine spins in the distance in Hesperia. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times