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Farmers, consumers want to put wind to work

A day after a landmark energy security summit in West Lafayette, a coalition of farm and consumer groups want to blow new life into the push for wind-generated electricity in Indiana. The Indiana Coalition for Renewable Energy and Economic Development (ICREED) wants the state to pass a renewable electricity standard, which would require 10 percent of Indiana's electricity to be generated from sources such as wind and bio-mass by 2017.

A day after a landmark energy security summit in West Lafayette, a coalition of farm and consumer groups want to blow new life into the push for wind-generated electricity in Indiana.

The Indiana Coalition for Renewable Energy and Economic Development (ICREED) wants the state to pass a renewable electricity standard, which would require 10 percent of Indiana's electricity to be generated from sources such as wind and bio-mass by 2017.

Representatives from the coalition Wednesday said they have now picked up the support of the Indiana Farm Bureau. Farmers would realize important economic benefits from power generated by wind and farm byproducts.

The renewable electricity standard had near-unanimous support from the 286 delegates at the Indiana Farm Bureau's annual delegate conference on Saturday, according to Kathleen Dutro, a Farm Bureau spokeswoman.

"Particularly in that part of the state which is flat, because flat is good for wind," Dutro said.

U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., and U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., wrote in support of state legislation that would require a renewable energy standard earlier this year. That legislation will get a hearing... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A day after a landmark energy security summit in West Lafayette, a coalition of farm and consumer groups want to blow new life into the push for wind-generated electricity in Indiana.

The Indiana Coalition for Renewable Energy and Economic Development (ICREED) wants the state to pass a renewable electricity standard, which would require 10 percent of Indiana's electricity to be generated from sources such as wind and bio-mass by 2017.

Representatives from the coalition Wednesday said they have now picked up the support of the Indiana Farm Bureau. Farmers would realize important economic benefits from power generated by wind and farm byproducts.

The renewable electricity standard had near-unanimous support from the 286 delegates at the Indiana Farm Bureau's annual delegate conference on Saturday, according to Kathleen Dutro, a Farm Bureau spokeswoman.

"Particularly in that part of the state which is flat, because flat is good for wind," Dutro said.

U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., and U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., wrote in support of state legislation that would require a renewable energy standard earlier this year. That legislation will get a hearing before the General Assembly's regulatory oversight committee Sept. 26 in Muncie.

"The momentum is there," said Jesse Kharbanda, of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, in a presentation for the coalition Wednesday at The Times.

On Tuesday, Lugar co-hosted an Energy Security Summit with Purdue University. Lugar called for diversification of energy supplies, emphasizing environmentally friendly sources and the establishment of meaningful goals.

ICREED feels a renewable electricity standards bill could make it to a floor vote in the General Assembly next year.

The coalition would like to pick up the support of Gov. Mitch Daniels, who has issued a call for more renewable energy in electricity generation, but has not come out in support of a renewable energy standard.

More than 20 states have renewable energy standards, including Illinois and Wisconsin.

Farmers like the standards because wind farm operators will pay $4,000 to $9,000 annually for the right to station a wind turbine on someone's land. Crops such as corn and soybeans can be planted right up to the base of the wind turbines, so lost crop income is minimal.

The renewable energy standard can be a prickly issue because it would require utility companies either to buy or produce 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.

Utilities in Indiana say they want to use more renewable sources, but requiring them to do so would decrease flexibility and might hike electric rates.

"What it would do is force companies to buy power above market prices, which makes no sense for ratepayers and makes no sense from an economic development standpoint," said Ed Simcox, president of the Indiana Energy Association, which represents NIPSCO and other major utilities.

On Wednesday, Citizens Action Coalition utility campaign organizer Dave Menzer said utilities just seem afraid of the prospect of change. The coalition estimates the renewable electricity standard would hike rates about 1 percent.

Menzer said in the long run, utilities and their customers would benefit, because the cost of complying with environmental standards at coal-fired power plants keeps going up.

kbenman@nwitimes.com


Source: http://nwitimes.com/article...

AUG 31 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/4281-farmers-consumers-want-to-put-wind-to-work
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