Renewable energy development is one of the most promising opportunities for rural economic development and diversification, and much of the industry’s investment is occurring in and benefiting communities in the heart of America’s “red states.” These states are politically conservative and tend to vote Republican but as CNN reporter Gabe Cohen learned in San Angelo, Texas, the constituents benefiting from clean energy investments question the partisan divide on the issue.
In fact, 18 of the top 20 congressional district benefiting from wind and solar energy investments are represented by Republicans. A White House analysis of the inflation reduction reports that 2/3 of the investment, including hundreds of thousands of jobs, will flow to red states.
San Angelo is oil and gas country, farm country, and cattle country. It’s now also wind and solar country. CNN’s Cohen visited with Allen Gully a cotton farmer now leasing land for solar development. The “rocking chair money” that Gully receives will help keep his family secure and on the land.
He went to the San Angelo Chamber where he met with Mike Looney, head of economic development, who voiced support for investment of all kinds. San Angelo sees opportunity in wind, solar, hydrogen, oil, and natural gas. “All of the above” energy keeps investment flowing to the region. Nine solar and wind farms have been built in the area, near a city of just 100,000 people. Looney reports that those investments are a strong source of revenue for Tom Green County.
Cohen visited water Water Valley outside of San Angelo where Tim Teagarden, a cattle rancher, is benefiting from wind turbines he hosts on his land; and further down the road Fabian Gomez, school superintendent, shared the story his new district’s new investments – a technology center, athletics facility, and expanded cafeteria – 85% of which was paid for by revenue from taxes on the wind and solar farms.
Jeff Clark, President of Advanced Power Alliance, spoke with Cohen and voiced support for the business of clean energy, “There are people who support renewable energy because it’s clean, and there are people who support renewable energy because it’s a way to make money; and they’re not mutually exclusive.”
American consumers can benefit from cleaner, cheaper power from renewable energy, and rural communities can benefit from the investments. The APA region is leading the way. For information on APA, email email@example.com.