Wind energy rapidly expanding
Wind energy is now a mainstream source of energy, and the industry proved that last year by being the number one source of new electric generating capacity in America. More than 40 percent of the new U.S. energy generation came from wind, Peter Kelley, vice president for public affairs at the American Wind Energy Association, told Monica Trauzzi during a recent edition of the OnPoint video program.
“That's way ahead of natural gas and coal and all the other sources. So, it was our strongest year ever. We've experienced remarkable growth with 28 percent more wind energy at the end of the year than we had when we started in America. So, that's been a huge boon to the industry. And yet we're still confronted with this uncertain policy landscape that has the companies trying to figure out what the rules are going to be in the future,” Kelley said.
Kelley said the goal is for 20 percent of the electric grid to be supplied by wind energy, and at the moment the industry is ahead of schedule to meet the goal. He also said utilities are continuing to put out more requests for wind energy proposals using existing government policy benefits.
The future of support for wind energy is highly unsettled because of Congress needing to deal with tax reform and working on an energy bill. “We’re just using the existing policy to build as many wind farms as we can, and get to start them by the end of the year. That’s the important thing about this year’s policy,” said Kelley.
“Over time we've reduced the cost of wind energy tremendously. It's come down 90 percent since 1990. And we believe that with a couple of more product development cycles of two to three years, we can be even more cost competitive, because advances are still being made. But this is a mature technology, it's now one of the lowest cost forms of energy in America, with such things as taller turbines that reach higher wind speeds. We're opening up new areas to development. And very, very competitive contracts are now being signed for wind power this year,” Kelley contended.
With his positive statements about establishing wind farms, it is natural that some competitive energy industries and some of the public might suggest too much in government tax credits are supporting wind energy.
Kelley countered by saying, “I think all forms of energy have always been heavily incentivized, heavily regulated in this country for up to 100 years. And that's because we want predictable, low-cost energy in America. It benefits our economy; it saves consumers money, and that's why energy is frankly so affordable in America. It's because of these policies and incentives. So why should wind energy be the only form of energy to lose its incentive this year? I think basically we should look at them all. And meanwhile, our energy policy in this country really is in the tax code, and it makes sense to continue what's working.”