In early 2020, what appeared to be a strong wind blowing and ray of light shining for the renewable energy industry in America all the sudden has been placed in peril. More renewable energy was scheduled to come on-line this year than ever before. Renewables were set to help power the economy all while providing for a cleaner environment for Americans.
As the founder and CEO of Scout Clean Energy, our company, which is based in Boulder, develops, owns, and operates wind power plants across the US. Over the last four years, we have grown to over $1.2 billion in capitalization with operations in 13 US states. A lot of our growth has occurred in the Pacific Northwest, California, Illinois and across PJM. Predictably, due to increased demand, we will continue to see developers focus on development across the country in the coming years.
Next month at the Financing Wind in North America Conference, I am excited to join other experts to lead a panel discussion on US Onshore Hotspots: Where To Invest Next. Our session will look at how developers can thrive in the current development climate.
While not limited to these topics, some of the questions we will explore include:
- Where will we see the most demand in the next 3-5 years?
- What are the biggest issues for developers in these states?
- What changes are we seeing in state support for wind?
- How can developers foster great community relations?
- How can the industry respond to false claims about wind?
Now, with disruptions from COVID, over 25 GW of wind development in the US is at
risk. Many of these wind projects, and we currently have two in mid-construction, provide local construction and operations jobs as well as much needed tax revenue for counties, hospitals, and school districts.
These critical community benefits are now more important than ever to these fragile, rural economies. Making sure we highlight those benefits is the single most important thing developers can do to advance their project in these communities.
The biggest lessons we have learned developing projects in the US, some successfully and others not, is that you must run an aggressive grassroots campaign to promote these benefits. Sitting back and hoping the local officials will rubber stamp your multi-million dollar investment in their community puts your project at risk before you sign the first lease. Understanding these benefits are your greatest strength and promoting them relentlessly is the only way you can beat back the naysayers and NIMBYs in your community.
These days it is rare that everyone wins. At Scout, we believe partnering with these communities to bring these renewable projects results in high-quality jobs, long-term lease payments and tax revenue, along with energy independence, and local manufacturing… not to mention a healthier planet. All benefits that you can provide to the community. In that case….WE ALL WIN.
With the future uncertain, I believe investments in the renewable energy industry can provide a jolt of support to energize our economy quickly. It is incumbent on each of us in the renewable energy space to make sure we highlight those benefits as we push to expand wind in the next decade.
I look forward to joining each of you to explore these topics further and look at where we invest next.