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Wind-Energy Proponents Dispel Myths Following Power Failures

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Despite some backlash in recent weeks from various politicians, renewable energy has seen bipartisan support in a number of national polls. (Adobe Stock)
Despite some backlash in recent weeks from various politicians, renewable energy has seen bipartisan support in a number of national polls. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen, Public News Service - IA - Producer, Contact
February 26, 2021

DES MOINES, Iowa - The reliability of clean energy was thrust back into the spotlight following recent power failures in southern states. In Iowa, a leader in wind energy, advocates are speaking out against any misinformation being floated in the public debate.

The extreme cold that gripped the central U.S. in mid-February led to massive outages in places like Texas and Oklahoma. That prompted politicians opposed to renewable energy to claim that frozen wind turbines were to blame.

But electrical grid experts say the lack of weatherization of fossil-fuel plants was a key factor. Kerri Johannsen - energy program director of the Iowa Environmental Council - said in this region, wind energy has been dependable in cold weather.

"We have not had problems with icing or the turbines shutting down because of the weather," said Johannsen. "'Cause the turbines are prepared for that."

In regions that typically see colder weather, industry officials say turbines are fitted with de-icing equipment. Johannsen said the reliability is crucial because wind now accounts for more than 40% of Iowa's electricity.

Other supporters, like the Environmental Defense Action Fund, say grid capacity needs more investment - as well as a modernization to prevent solar and wind development from stalling. These groups say there's bipartisan support behind clean energy, which they hope will survive political attacks backed with misinformation.

The EDAF has issued a new poll, which found 70% of independents surveyed backing a clean-energy boost to prevent future failures. The group's Senior Communications Director Keith Gaby said Congress should build on that support and increase grid investment as renewable costs come down.

"We now have the cheapest form of new power when you add renewable energy to an energy system," said Gaby. "But we also need to make that system stronger, resilient in all conditions, and have the ability to move the power around efficiently and effectively."

The same poll found broad support - including 78% from both independents and Republicans - for increasing energy storage capabilities. Gaby said after Congress completes work on the current relief package up for debate, they hope lawmakers give clean-energy investment a strong look in subsequent economic recovery bills.

Disclosure: Environmental Defense Action Fund contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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