A case for sustainable wind energy

Wind energy plays an important role in the U.S.’s energy equation.

A Sept. 4 letter to the editor from Rolf Westgard in the Minnesota Daily paints an incomplete picture of the role wind power is playing in today’s energy equation. Wind added 35 percent of all new generating capacity between 2007 and 2010, more than new coal and nuclear combined.

If allowed to continue on its current track, according to an assessment prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy, the wind industry has the capacity to meet 20 percent of America’s energy needs by 2030. That would support roughly 500,000 good-quality jobs in the U.S., and would result in energy-related cost savings to the nation ranging from $100 billion to $250 billion.

Mr. Westgard mischaracterizes the Production Tax Credit, a performance-based incentive that drives over $15 billion a year in private investment and doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime. By way of contrast, fossil fuels in their start-up period got five times more in government incentives than renewable energy has, and nuclear got 10 times as much.

Wind energy is a homegrown industry that is one of the fastest-growing sources of new U.S. manufacturing jobs at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities. Unlike all too many products now produced overseas, the economics of wind power are such that components such as heavy blades and towers are best made close to the projects’ site.

While Mr. Westgard is correct in calling for further research into wind energy; the scientific, economic and environmental case for wind is proven. Why else would there be such extensive bipartisan support for the PTC among the nation’s Governors, Senators and members of Congress? As a member of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, a group that works on many environmental and social justice issues, and a passionate environmentalist, I strongly believe that wind power works — and it’s working for all of us.