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Renewable Energy Production Grows in Nearly Every State

J. Mijin Cha

Yesterday, I wrote about how renewable energy is flourishing, despite a lack of political support. Recent data from the Energy Information Agency confirms this trend. As reported by the Washington Post’s WonkBlog, renewable energy use has increased in nearly every state. The two maps below show renewable energy use in 2001 and in 2011.

As you can see, including hydropower, 14 states get over 15 percent of their power from renewable energy. The growth from 2001 is impressive. Part of the growth can be attributed to smart state policy, like renewable portfolio standards, that promote renewable energy growth, and federal production tax credits and grants that provide support for emerging renewable energy technologies. In fact, wind was the fastest growing source of non–hydroelectric renewable generation, partly due to the federal production tax credit. Unfortunately, the federal production tax credit for wind is set to expire at the end of 2012.

If the production tax credit does expire, it will be a shining example of the damage that can be done when policy is based on politicking and not on what is the right path forward. As can be seen by the maps above, smart policies do help expand renewable energy production. Instead of attacking this growing sector, Congress, and state legislatures, should continue to support its expansion.