Strong Response to RFP Shows Potential of Wind Energy

The wind energy industry in the United States has demonstrated its potential to respond quickly to the power crisis in the western part of the country, says the industry’s lobby group.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-05-28 [SolarAccess.com] The wind energy industry in the United States has demonstrated its potential to respond quickly to the power crisis in the western part of the country, says the industry’s lobby group. Wind energy suppliers submitted proposals to generate 2,600 MW of green electricity for the Bonneville Power Administration, with room to expand to 4,000 MW. The federal power agency had issued a RFP seeking 1,000 MW of new wind capacity. “Hundreds of thousands of megawatts of wind power plants could be installed in the western U.S., vastly increasing electricity supplies and providing an abundance of clean, domestic energy,” says Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association. “The wind resource of the western and midwestern states is bigger in energy terms than the oil resources of Saudi Arabia. It’s a strategic national energy asset, and developing it should be a national energy priority.” The proposals to generate 2,600 MW could meet the power needs of 500,000 to 750,000 average homes, or 1.4 to 2.1 million people. BPA officials conceded that they were “blown away” by the overwhelming response. The first wind facility will be installed by the end of next year, more quickly than most other power plants could be built. It will deliver electricity to the utility to displace the low hydropower generation in the drought-plagued northwest. “Harvesting the strong, steady winds of the Columbia River Basin works especially well with our hydro power base,” explains BPA acting administrator Steve Wright. “When the winds blow, we can save more water in reservoirs; when the winds are still, we can release the river’s power. Wind farms add to our local renewable resources.” The BPA experience “has only scratched the surface” of the potential for wind energy in the Pacific northwest and western states, and Swisher wants the national energy plan of President George Bush to include a “serious renewable energy agenda for the nation.” Necessary measures for wind include an extension of the existing federal production tax credit for wind which is due to expire at the end of this year unless renewed by Congress. A proposed PTC extension is included in the President’s plan. Swisher also wants a Renewables Portfolio Standard to require that 10 percent of electricity in the United States be generated from renewables by 2010, as well as increased research funding to bring down the price of wind power and a directive to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to integrate intermittent electricity-generating resources into the electric utility transmission system. He also wants an investment tax credit of 30 percent for wind systems smaller than 75 kW and a requirement that federal government agencies purchase an increasing percentage of their energy needs from renewable energy suppliers. “Wind energy is the great success story of the last energy crisisa brand-new technology developed over the last 20 years with enormous potential,” explains Swisher. “It’s time to put it to work to deal with the energy problems we have today.”
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