The wind-energy industry is turning to its members to advance its cause on a united front.
California leads the U.S. in renewable-energy policy, after raising the level of renewable energy that utilities must use to supply customers, American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode said Monday at the WINDPOWER 2011 conference in Anaheim, Calif. She praised the recent passage of a 33% renewable-energy standard by 2020, which is the highest in the country. It is fitting for California to lead the way in renewable-energy development because the state started the U.S. wind industry 30 years ago.
“Already, 3% — and at peak, over 5% — of this huge state’s generation comes from wind. And now the renaissance of California’s renewable-energy leadership is here,” Bode said in her remarks opening the conference.
States in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest and New England have followed California’s example, encouraging wind-energy development within their borders. Wind energy accounted for 35% of new generating capacity in the U.S. in the past four years, expanding faster than established forms of energy, Bode said. However, a lack of a consistent energy policy at the federal level holds the industry back from its full potential, she said.
That’s the reason AWEA is turning to the men and women of the industry to help it convince national and state leaders that wind energy is right for the U.S. Bode encouraged conference participants to pledge to advance the industry’s cause in three ways before next year’s conference. She said that without support from lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and state capitals, wind will struggle to expand. The country needs to know wind energy’s economic and environmental benefits, Bode said.
“It’s a profitable business,” she said. “It’s a job creator, from the construction worker laying the tower’s cement foundation to the turbine technician scaling 80 meters or more of clanging metal stairs.”
Wind can help the U.S. steer through its energy challenges, she said.