First, the administration could withdraw recently proposed avian guidelines for wind farm plants and instead adopt a pro-wildlife consensus agreement that was worked out under the supervision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a two-year advisory committee process. The more recent draft guidelines that the Service issued while ignoring the consensus agreement threaten at least 35,000 megawatts of homegrown electricity (enough to generate as much electricity as eight nuclear power plants) and $70 billion in private investment. The Service is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and prompt, decisive action is needed to restore the consensus agreement.
Second, the Administration could press forward with removing roadblocks to the building of new, higher-capacity transmission lines to improve the reliability of the nation’s electric utility system and save consumers money by providing access to new resources, including renewable energy. The Department of Energy can help facilitate regional agreements and utilize authorities to get transmission lines sited.
Cost is not a major obstacle to building transmission, and taxpayer funding is not needed. In fact, the benefits of building transmission are much greater than the cost, which means that private industry could build the lines at a profit while simultaneously benefiting consumers.
We strongly urge that the Administration move forward on these issues, which must be resolved in any event for a more comprehensive energy policy to be fully effective.
By Denise Bode, AWEA CEO, www.awea.org/