- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
In 2005, the industry experienced good growth as energy prices soared to record levels, causing companies and municipalities to seek out ways to control such costs. Wind-generated power currently provides less than 1 percent of our nation's electricity, but that is expected to increase to 5 percent by 2020. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the industry added nearly 2,500 megawatts of wind power in 2005, a record 35 percent increase. Wind power currently supplies the needs of 2.4 million average U.S. houses.
States such as Colorado have added regulatory language requiring certain percentages of total power output to be produced by wind power by specific dates. In December, officials from Atlantic City, N.J., dedicated the country's first coastal wind farm, while residents in Cape Cod, Mass., are fighting to block a proposal to build a wind farm three miles off their shores. General Electric Co. recently announced a windmill farm startup of the largest system on Indian land.
In McCamey, Tex., Mayor Sherry Phillips said the population there has dwindled over the decades from about 10,000 to 1,800 as oil dried up. But these days, according to Phillips, the area is remaking itself as the wind farm capital of Texas, collecting millions of dollars in taxes and creating 40 to 50 jobs from 860 wind turbines. The wind power added this year will offset the emission of about 7 billion pounds of CO2, equivalent to keeping nearly 500,000 SUVs off the road, the association said.
Opponents to wind energy generation claim the windmills look bad and lower property values. They also point out that the mills can be noisy, and kill birds that fly into them. Proponents acknowledge there are certainly some birds killed but the numbers are quite small. The visual impact is much less than that of an oil farm and the noise is minimal. Wind power helps control skyrocketing electric and heating bills. They also reduce the demand for natural gas and coal while bringing new jobs to areas.
For more information on wind power, visit the association's website at www.awea.org, or General Electric's site at www.gepower.com/businesses/ge_wind_energy/en/index.htm.