With policies crucial to the future development of U.S. wind power coming under increased scrutiny in many key wind states, Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), opened WINDPOWER 2015 with a rallying cry for support by laying out a roadmap for how to beat back the opposition.
Kiernan shed his typically affable manner and struck a more serious tone during the event's opening general session – perhaps as an acknowledgement that wind power advocates need to up their game to the level of their well-funded opponents.
‘We're no longer a niche alternative fuel industry,’ Kiernan told attendees, adding that U.S. wind is now mainstream and has bipartisan political support.
‘Our political strengths need to be commensurate with our opponents,’ he said.
Of course, the advocacy group cannot do it alone, as it relies on the support of legislators. To that end, Kiernan said that wind power needs to build up its political capital – or as he put it, ‘political respect.’ Such respect can be earned by acknowledging the advocates and calling out the legislators who do not support the group's vision by ‘making sure they are not re-elected,’ he said to thunderous applause.
He urged attendees to become active at the grassroots level and donate to political action committees. ‘We need people to be lobbying with us,’ he said.
‘We have the power to change the course of history,’ he added, ‘but it is dependent on what we do now.’