Article

Wind power's potential in peril?

Nevada needs billions of dollars in new transmission lines if it is to capitalize on its renewable energy potential and become a net exporter of clean energy, Gov. Jim Gibbons said in a statement. He and other Western governors have called for changes in tax laws to further stimulate transmission line development.

Need for transmission lines, financing amid a recession has cast doubt on renewable future

Nevada's desert valleys and windswept peaks have significant wind energy potential. But if the state cannot attract federal dollars for massive transmission expansion, the state's wind dreams could peter out.

Nevada is not among the top states in wind energy potential - it's ranked 21st in the nation. And so far it has no utility scale wind farms (although several are in the planning stages).

Yet the boost the American wind industry could see as a result of federal legislation could be a boon for the state.

The U.S. Energy Department lists Nevada's wind potential as "good-to-excellent" across large parts of the state - mostly near Las Vegas and Ely and on the higher ridge crests throughout the state.

Numerous wind farms could grace the state in the coming years if Nevada can get more transmission lines and the wind developers can get financing.

NV Energy has a giant wind farm planned near Jackpot, on the border with Idaho. And Las Vegas-based Nevada Wind Company has at least four wind farms planned near Sparks and Ely.

Improved financing options for wind projects and more transmission... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Need for transmission lines, financing amid a recession has cast doubt on renewable future

Nevada's desert valleys and windswept peaks have significant wind energy potential. But if the state cannot attract federal dollars for massive transmission expansion, the state's wind dreams could peter out.

Nevada is not among the top states in wind energy potential - it's ranked 21st in the nation. And so far it has no utility scale wind farms (although several are in the planning stages).

Yet the boost the American wind industry could see as a result of federal legislation could be a boon for the state.

The U.S. Energy Department lists Nevada's wind potential as "good-to-excellent" across large parts of the state - mostly near Las Vegas and Ely and on the higher ridge crests throughout the state.

Numerous wind farms could grace the state in the coming years if Nevada can get more transmission lines and the wind developers can get financing.

NV Energy has a giant wind farm planned near Jackpot, on the border with Idaho. And Las Vegas-based Nevada Wind Company has at least four wind farms planned near Sparks and Ely.

Improved financing options for wind projects and more transmission lines would almost certainly also affect the state's other two major renewable energy resources: solar and geothermal.

That's no small task.

Nevada needs billions of dollars in new transmission lines if it is to capitalize on its renewable energy potential and become a net exporter of clean energy, Gov. Jim Gibbons said in a statement.

He and other Western governors have called for changes in tax laws to further stimulate transmission line development.

Gibbons sent a letter this month to President Barack Obama urging him to promote changes in the Internal Revenue code to allow the sale of bonds for renewable energy and transmission projects.

"Nevada is profusely blessed with solar, wind and geothermal energy production potential," Gibbons said. "The time for talk passed long ago."

Gibbons requested these changes be included in the stimulus bill, but sent the letter after the bill had passed in the House and was under debate in the Senate.

The version of the federal stimulus bill that was finally agreed upon by both houses of Congress on Friday includes funding for improved transmission networks and renewable energy expansion, but the energy industry is not yet sure how those resources will be distributed and which states will get the most support.

Wind energy is one of the nation's most promising renewable energy technologies. The Energy Department predicts it will cost about the same as "clean coal" generated electricity and less than natural gas generated electricity by 2015 - making it the cheapest renewable energy source available.

And it is plentiful in many states.

Wind farms produce more than 25,000 megawatts of electricity in the United States, enough to power nearly 7 million households - at least during a breeze. They accounted for more than 40 percent of new electric generation across all types in 2008, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

The U.S. wind energy industry installed more than 8,000 megawatts of generating capacity in 2008, shattering previous records, the association reported last month. Wind power brought online in the last quarter of 2008 (4,112 megawatts) exceeds annual additions for every year except 2007.

But the organization has warned that storm clouds are forming over the industry.

In the last months of 2008, financing for all types of renewable energy projects disappeared. That, combined with the economic meltdown, hit the global wind turbine manufacturing industry hard, and the new year has brought layoffs.

"Our numbers are both exciting and sobering," association Chief Executive Denise Bode said in a statement. "The U.S. wind energy industry's performance in 2008 confirms that wind is an economic and job creation dynamo, ready to deliver on the president's call to double renewable energy production in three years. At the same time, it is clear that the economic and financial downturn have begun to take a serious toll on new wind development."


Source: http://www.lasvegassun.com/...

FEB 15 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19086-wind-power-s-potential-in-peril
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