Over the past three years, natural gas has increased its share of the U.S. electricity market by 6% while wind energy’s share has increased by 0.5% and coal’s share has declined.
The Energy Information Administration currently forecasts similar dominance by gas in future decades, projecting that gas will make up fully 62%–nearly two-thirds–of all new electric power generating capacity added during the next 25 years.
Yet the benefits of diversifying our electricity supply by adding more wind energy generation are clear: wind power uses virtually no water, and since wind turbines uses zero fuel, its cost is immune to inflation once a wind farm is built, protecting consumers’ pocketbooks.
Steady and cost-effective energy sources are critical to the growth and development of American business long-term. And wind delivers: for example, a Georgia Tech study just released finds the South could save $23 billion by 2030 by investing in renewable energy today, with wind the most competitive resource.
And, practically unique among leading energy sources, wind energy uses virtually no water.
As a former CEO of the American Clean Skies Foundation, I’m probably as familiar as anyone with the wonderful opportunity that gas from shale provides, but at the same time, we will need “all of the above” energy sources, and adding and increasing market share for renewables will help conserve and protect freshwater supplies for when we need them.
Utilities and regulators should put all energy resources on an equal footing by seeking bids for 20-year firm fixed-price power. Congress can ensure that by enacting a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), which would set loose the market forces to ensure a diverse portfolio of electricity sources that will remain relatively low-cost, long-term.
by Denise Bode, AWEA CEO, www.aweablog.org/