In some ways, the 2010 agenda is already set. American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and its members will keep working on the key items unfinished from the past year—first, getting the Congress to adopt a strong Renewable Electricity Standard, which will drive up demand.
Second, we need to keep be pushing hard for transmission reform, both in Congress, and in state and federal regulatory agencies. Without a modern transmission network, wind power cannot reach its potential.
These are big challenges, and achieving them will require not only lobbying, but public education. Many Americans still don’t understand the negative implications of our current energy practices, let alone the alternatives that are readily available.
We need to explain as often as we can how wind power can be safely integrated into the electricity grid; how wind energy protects the environment (including offshore) and benefits the communities where wind farms are located; and how increased use of wind turbines will, in the long run, drive down overall energy costs, not increase them as critics have charged.
In the current climate, we also need to highlight what may be the most powerful argument for wind energy: that it creates jobs. Building a new energy infrastructure that includes significant wind power will be a bonanza for an American economy because it will create hundreds of thousands of good jobs. That should be our mantra and our message in 2010.
By Chris Madison – American Wind Energy Association