Alternative energy is getting multi-million-dollar exposure in the country’s most widely viewed television event, the Super Bowl.
Anheuser-Busch, one of the world’s leading beer makers, has invested about $7.5 million on a 45-second Super Bowl commercial touting wind power’s renewable resource use, which could affect Indiana.
The spot, named “Wind Never Felt Better,” is one of eight commercials Anheuser-Busch will air during Super Bowl LIII, Feb. 3.
The spot follows a Dalmatian dog atop a beer wagon pulled by the famous Budweiser Clydesdale horses as they make their way through a field of crops. Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” plays as the wind blows and ruffles the dog’s ears and mouth. The camera pulls out, revealing the team has been traveling through a large wind farm with wind turbines dotting the landscape. Text appears saying, “Wind never felt better,” and, “Now brewed with wind power for a better tomorrow.”
“[The] Super Bowl is one of the most exciting times of the year for our team, and people all over the country. Those who wait for the best commercials all year expect Budweiser to show up big, and we felt there was no better way to show up this year than to talk about our commitment to renewable electricity,” said Ricardo Marques, vice president of marketing core and value brands at Anheuser-Busch in a news release. “We are proud to be the first Anheuser-Busch brand and the first major beer brand to be brewed with 100 percent renewable electricity from wind power and hopefully we can use this moment to inspire others in our pursuit for a more sustainable future.”
Anheuser-Busch says by 2025 it plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions across its value chain by 25 percent to make sure 100 percent of its purchased electricity comes from renewable resources.
That’s where Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl investment could pay off for Indiana. A major corporation’s visible commitment to wind power could spur more interest and investment.
Currently, there are 15 active wind power manufacturing facilities in the state that employ about 3,000 workers. Wind power production in Indiana is up. Indiana has an installed wind power capacity of 2,117 MW, or enough energy to power about half a million homes, but produces only about 5 percent of the energy used in the state. In 2017, Indiana was powered mostly by coal and natural gas, which make up nearly 75 percent and 19 percent of the state’s installed capacity respectively. Most of the state’s wind power is sold to other markets with higher electricity costs.
Indiana’s wind farms already provide energy for two of the country’s largest corporations. Wind from EDP Renewable’s Headwaters I Wind Farm in Randolph County provides energy to Facebook’s New Albany Data Center in Ohio and retail giant Walmart. EDP Renewables says it will build a new 200 MW wind farm to keep up with demand.
“Indiana has long been a key market for EDP Renewables,” said Miguel Prado, CEO of EDP Renewables North America, in a statement. “EDPR appreciates the tremendous support we receive from our stakeholders in Randolph County and looks forward to bringing more clean energy to the grid and economic benefits to the state.”
But not everyone agrees wind farms positively affect the Hoosier state. Indiana Wind Watch, a group that opposes wind energy projects in Indiana says the Anheuser-Busch commercial is spreading a false narrative about the realities of wind energy.
“Missing from Anheuser-Busch's commercial is the reality that wind turbines are very often irresponsibly-sited close to homes,” Indiana Wind Watch told the Indiana Environmental Reporter. “Where are the pictures of the homes being encroached upon by industrial wind turbines? Also missing is the power plant, usually a fossil-fueled gas plant, that is used for back-up power when the wind turbines are not producing electricity.
“Anheuser-Busch want to appear to be politically correct with their ‘green’ message, but they're doing it at the expense of the taxpayers who supply the subsidies, the ratepayers who pay higher prices, and the miseries of those who are forced to live in the midst of wind farms without having given their consent or being compensated. And note that there's not a single home pictured in the ad.”
Wind energy suppliers do receive tax subsidies, but support and subsidies have fallen 80 percent in the last three recorded years. In 2016, the most recent data available, wind projects in the U.S. received $1.27 billion in support and subsidies, slightly more than the $1.26 billion the coal industry received that year.
Clean energy development in rural parts of the Midwest has been proven to create jobs and support local infrastructure development. As of 2018, 10,683 people were employed by the renewable energy industry in Indiana. Building renewable resources has also proven to be cheaper than maintaining existing coal plants.
Northern Indiana Public Service Co. analysts found that NIPSCO would save $4 billion over 30 years by reducing its coal usage to 15 percent in 2023 and would completely stop burning coal by 2028. Vectren Corp. announced a 60 percent carbon emission reduction by 2024 that would include the closure of three coal-powered plants in southwestern Indiana and an increased reliance on renewable energy sources.