Yesterday, SACE hosted the first ever Wind Energy Day at the Georgia State Capitol. This event was sponsored by Senator Lester Jackson (D-Savannah). The first day of spring started with the senator speaking about the benefits of wind energy from the Senate floor and letting other Senators and gallery attendees know about the exciting presentations we had planned for the day. Senator Jackson also used this opportunity to give recognition to SACE and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) for our participation in Wind Energy Day. Several days before Wind Energy Day, Senator Jackson introduced a resolution lauding the benefits of wind energy – a first of its kind in Georgia.
Standing in the Senate Gallery, I could not help but think of all the people throughout the years that stood right where I was standing and got to see history in the making. It made me think of my own hopes and dreams for policies that are supportive of wind energy and other renewables and that someday (very soon) I would like to be back at the capitol and witness these hopes and dreams becoming a reality.
After leaving the Senate Gallery, I headed down to Governor Nathan Deal’s office with Senator Jackson, Tybee Island City Councilman Paul Wolff, Jeff Mauk of the NCEL and my colleague Anne Blair. While having our picture taken with the Governor, Senator Jackson informed the Governor of the events that we had planned for the day and the importance of wind and other renewables in our great state.
After meeting Governor Deal, I attended a reception with the speaker panel and we had an opportunity to meet with state and local officials. Among the individuals we met with were Representative Calvin Smyre (D-135), Mayor Edna Jackson of Savannah, and Savannah’s City Manager, Stephanie Cutter. The speakers were excited to engage officials on wind energy opportunities and activities that are taking place in the state and particularly to discuss the economic impact that wind could have on Georgia. With over 8,000 components in a wind turbine, there is no reason that Georgia should not be manufacturing these parts and in turn, putting Georgians to work.
When the reception came to a close it was time for the main event, panelist presentations. We had a wonderful panel that included: Jeff Mauk, Project Manager for NCEL, Dr. Sam Shelton, Director of Research Programs at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Strategic Energy Institute, Mary Hallisey Hunt, Director of Special Programs at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Strategic Energy Institute, Teresa Eldredge, President and Co-founder of TJ Schell, LLC, Nikki Dodd, Production Assistant at Hailo, LLC, and Jessica Moore, Executive Director and Founder of America’s Energy Future. The presentations focused on Georgia’s wind potential (both offshore and land-based), manufacturing opportunities for wind components, and a look at our states great solar resource. We would like to thank our panelists and Senator Jackson, without them, this event would not have been possible. Furthermore, I would like to thank Senator Jackson for his dedication to a cleaner energy future here in Georgia.
Senator Jackson recognizes that wind energy is a valuable renewable resource that we have available in our state and we should be taking advantage of that resource.
Before I started planning this event, I had the misconception that our state legislators were relatively inaccessible. Yes, we might meet them and shake their hand when they are out campaigning but do we really have any connection past that? The answer is YES! You can have that connection just by picking up the phone and calling your legislator’s office. If we want to see wind projects become a reality here in Georgia, we are going to have to sit down with our legislators and let them know that we want clean energy being produced in our state and we want the economic benefits that come with wind. Otherwise we are going to watch as surrounding states forge ahead of us and not only claim the benefits of clean renewable wind energy but also good quality, high-paying, long-term jobs.