Across the Great Lakes region, states are recognizing the important role that renewable energy plays in reducing carbon emissions and contributing to economic growth. Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin have proclaimed this week Clean Energy Week, to coincide with National Clean Energy Week (September 26 – 30, 2022).
Birds are telling us that the time to take climate action is now. North America has lost more than three billion birds over the past half-century, and two-thirds of North American bird species at risk of extinction due to climate change. In order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and move our economy to net-zero by 2050, we need more sources of renewable energy generation and policies that support reducing carbon emissions.
Congress recently passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes historic climate focused policy that will ramp up clean energy projects across the region. It extends important tax-credits for renewable energy projects and new clean energy technologies, and provides billions of dollars for new clean energy manufacturing, repair and upgrades to energy transmission infrastructure.
The IRA also invests in climate-smart agriculture, galvanizing the agriculture sector to lead the charge in our fight against climate change. It provides $19.9 billion to support conservation practices on farms, ranches, and forests across our region to lessen the impacts of droughts and flooding, improve soil health and long-term food security, create job opportunities for rural economies, and restore wildlife habitat.
We also have opportunities at the state-level to tackle climate change, enhance local economies and create resilient communities. Policies like net-metering, and those that expand community solar will help bring additional renewable energy generation to our region.
Net metering compensates customers who generate their own electricity, usually through solar panels on their rooftops, for electricity they add to the grid. Solar customers deserve to be compensated a fair amount for the energy that they provide to the grid, yet despite the benefits it would provide to our region, net metering is constrained or prohibited in many Great Lakes states.
Community solar programs provide access to solar energy for those who cannot put solar panels on their rooftop – usually renters. Increased access to community solar will help to promote more equitable access to solar energy.
We will also need more utility scale renewable energy to reduce the threat of climate change to birds which means additional transmission lines to move the power from where it’s generated to where it’s needed. Transmission lines that are properly sited and managed pose the lowest risks to birds and their habitat, which is why it’s critical for stakeholders like Audubon to inform the planning process.
Climate-smart agricultural programs, expanding access to solar through net-metering and community solar, and properly-sited transmission lines for utility scale renewable energy projects will be vital for our region to increase our resilience to climate threats and to drive investments into local economies. By investing in these solutions and supporting the policies that enable them, we can create a better future for birds, people, and the places we share.
Join us as we continue to work with policymakers and leaders across our region to achieve a cleaner, better future. Sign up today to be an Audubon climate advocate, and we will let you know how you can raise your voice to help birds in your community.