AWEA’s community wind power advocates come to Washington

With Congress getting ready to take up energy policy this summer, a number of community wind energy advocates are in Washington this week to highlight for members of Congress the value of this segment of the industry and to make a pitch for renewable energy policies that will make it easier for more individuals and communities to get directly involved in wind energy.

As part of its overall support for community wind farm projects, AWEA recently adopted a detailed policy position on community wind, including a description of how AWEA defines community wind, for the purposes of developing pro-community wind power policies.

A project is considered a community wind project if its nameplate capacity is 100 MW or less and includes at least one-third local ownership, or it is a stand-alone project under 20 MW capacity and has the support of a local governing body, the local community is involved in decisionmaking for the project, or it has a demonstrated benefit to the local community.

The policy paper notes that two pro-renewables policies being sought by the entire wind industry would also benefit community wind: extension beyond 2010 of the current program that allows renewable tax credits to be converted to cash grants, and a renewable electricity standard (RES) of at least 25%.

But even with these policy improvements, community wind projects will continue to face market barriers. So AWEA is recommending modification of the depreciation rules for community wind projects, an expansion of Agriculture and Energy department funding programs, and the creation of a community wind “roadmap” that would show potential growth path for community wind in the United States.

By Chris Madison,