Winds of change in power generation

Rows of wind turbines at the Altamont Pass wind farm in Livermore, Calif.

TEXT OF STORY

TESS VIGELAND: The wind industry released some new stats today that it hopes will blow skeptics away. According to the American Wind Energy Association, wind power grew 45 percent last year. For the first time energy from wind turbines accounted for more than 1 percent of the electricity produced in this country, but as Sarah Gardner reports from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, the industry has a few storms on the horizon.


GARDNER: Wind power has made impressive headway in the last few years. Its success is due in part to the 25 states that have passed so-called "renewable portfolio standards." Those laws require that a certain percentage of a state's electricity come from green power, but while industry officials celebrate their success, the business is suffering some growing pains. There's a shortage of wind turbines for one. Wind power entrepreneur Doug Selsam.

DOUG SELSAM: There's only so many factories in the world that can produce the fiberglass. There are only so many factories that can produce the resins that go together, and those resins essentially come from oil.

But the industry is more nervous about losing subsidies. Congress failed to include wind production tax credits in the latest energy bill, and the current credits are due to expire this year. Greg Wetstone at the American Wind Energy Association says here's what his group's members are hearing.

GREG WETSTONE: They're seeing investors take a step back in terms of how much they're willing to step forward, and say, you know, let's move forward and we want to continue to build a renewable industry. They want to know what the tax policies are.

There was good news, however, for the country's first offshore wind farm this week. A government report concluded that the Cape Wind project off Nantucket would have no major environmental impact. Nearby residents, including the Kennedy family, are fighting that project. They gripe about marring the view, the potential noise and the impact on bird life.

I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk covering sustainability news spots and features.

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