Seventeen U.S. Governors Sign Clean Energy Accord

The governors of 17 U.S. states on February 16 signed a landmark agreement to cooperate on expanding clean energy, energy efficiency, and modernizing energy infrastructure.

The Governors’ Accord For A New Energy Future makes the case that “new energy solutions” can “provide more durable and resilient infrastructure, and enable economic growth, while protecting the health of our communities and natural resources.” Though the term “climate change” does not appear, likely in part to help bring together a bipartisan (though mostly Democratic) group from a diverse set of states across the country, the accord does reference “[e]xtreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, wildfires and sea-level rise” that threaten reliability and the economy.

The accord was signed by the governors of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Though this includes those who have aggressively promoted renewable energy and grid modernization, such as California Gov. Jerry Brown and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it also includes Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, whose state is currently suing to block the Clean Power Plan.

The omission of the term was apparently deliberate, according to Brown.

“There’s a very sharp cleavage in the United States on this issue of climate change,” he said during the press call on the announcement, “and it has a lot of partisan coloration.”

“We want to get done important stuff without getting bogged down in the larger controversy.”

The governors, for the most part, stressed the economic benefits in their statements accompanying the accord.

“From the creation of a $5 billion Clean Energy Fund to implementing our ambitious Clean Energy Standard, New York is fully committed to our role as a national leader in growing the clean tech economy,” Cuomo said.

“In Michigan,” Snyder noted, “ratepayers have saved more than $4 billion by reducing energy waste. This partnership will help us further adapt and identify best practices as we work to make energy more affordable, reliable and environmentally protective.”

—Thomas W. Overton, JD is a POWER associate editor (@thomas_overton, @POWERmagazine).