Washington Examiner: Wind industry looks to influence 2016 election

Washington Examiner: Wind industry looks to influence 2016 election

The wind industry upped its political game on Tuesday with the launch of a new bipartisan advocacy organization aimed at influencing congressional campaigns.

“American Energy Action will help inform and educate the public on the many benefits that wind energy brings to our nation and to communities across America,” Sam Enfield and Jeff Clark of the group’s board of directors said in a press release announcing its formation.

“We will be working to identify and activate supporters of wind energy to encourage action from their elected officials, and we will educate the public about the actions and positions those officials take on wind energy,” they added in a joint statement.

AWA’s status as a 501(C)4 advocacy group means it will devote 40 percent of its funds toward both state and federal congressional races. The remaining 60 percent will be applied to its educational role of promoting the benefits of wind energy in the form of increased jobs, lower energy bills and higher tax revenue for local and state governments, say officials representing the group.

AWA defines itself as an “independent and bipartisan” advocacy group focused on “educating the public on federal and state issues relevant to the development and benefits of wind energy,” the statement said.

The group says it has a “seven figure” budget to begin its activities.

It will act as a separate organization to the wind industry’s principal trade group, the American Wind Energy Association, which advocates for the industry on Capitol Hill and before the agencies.

“Windpower is lowering energy prices for consumers and revitalizing rural economies,” Enfield and Clark said. “The importance of wind as an energy source for America cannot be overstated, and we’re proud to push the discussion on wind energy forward by launching AWA today.”

In the last year, wind energy has been one of the fastest growing renewable energy resources in the U.S., representing two-thirds of all new generation in 2015. Even so, wind still only represents a small sliver of the country’s total electricity production, which remains dominated by natural gas and coal.