New Year Message to Wind Powering America Stakeholders

January 4, 2011

Although 2010 wind project installations were fewer than the 2009 record levels, 2011 should be a strong year for wind development in the United States. The 1603 Treasury grant was extended for an additional year, the production tax credit will be continued through 2012, and the national economy is reviving. Yet challenges remain: transmission constraints, a low wholesale power cost, siting challenges, wind industry myths and misinformation, and a continued reluctance on the national level to address the health and environmental externalities of providing power through carbon-intense forms. Each of these challenges, which in turn impact wind energy's relative cost, impacts the expanded use of wind technology.

Wind Powering America experienced a number of changes in the past year, resulting in some defined challenges but also some strong successes, such as the initial release of the Wind Workforce Development Roadmap, a very successful All-States Summit, and an expanding Wind for Schools program. This past year has also been difficult for states and Wind Working Groups, compounded by the reduced funding available at DOE to provide direct support to these organizations.

In light of a prolonged continuing resolution, a Congress with a sharp eye toward deficit reduction, and most activities supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act nearly completed, the new year is unlikely to provide much relief to these underlying challenges.

With this in mind, the Wind Powering America transition toward a stronger regional approach with greater reliance on industry support, providing more information through electronic forms, and promoting peer-to-peer information exchange will continue and likely expand. Other opportunities, such as in offshore wind and a planned funding opportunity announcement to support regional collaboration in wind deployment, will also play out over the next year.

As we face these challenges, it is important to keep in mind how far we have come and, although rocky, how clear the path forward is. As can be seen in a wonderful holiday video produced by a class in the small Alaskan community of Quinhagak, wind energy is becoming a common and positively visible element of life in America. As we look forward while reflecting on the joys of family and the smiling faces of the children in Quinhagak, where wind energy is helping to insure the viability of their community in the face of rising fuel costs, we know that our work has a profound positive impact on those who will come after us.

The DOE and NREL Wind Powering America team would like to wish each of you a safe and prosperous New Year.