Congressman Encourages Long-Term Wind Policy

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During the opening session of the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) WINDPOWER 2011 conference on Monday morning, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., spoke about the need for implementing long-term energy policies that will help the wind industry fully come to scale.

‘You've heard it on this stage; you'll hear it throughout the conference. We can't repeat it enough: Get the production tax credit extended,’ he said. ‘Our goal should not be a short-term extension, but to give you a window of opportunity that's long enough to realize the potential of your industry.’

Blumenauer, a member of the influential House Ways and Means Committee, said people need to understand the importance of subsidies for the wind industry.

‘In the short term, we must make a public investment in terms of tax advantages and other subsidies to bring your industry to scale, and we must have a long-term policy framework,’ he said.

Developing more wind energy – and cleaner energy, in general – is of vital importance to the country, according to Blumenauer. But he said that transmission and integration issues must first be resolved. He cited the recent example of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) curtailing wind production because of an overabundance of hydropower as an example of an important wind-integration issue.

‘I fear one arm of the federal government – the Bonneville Power Administration – really is not acting in the best interest of the administration's policy to try and integrate and build the wind industry,’ he said.

Blumenauer went on to say that the BPA needs to make changes, no matter how difficult, in order to minimize wind curtailment.

‘Their role is going to require some stretching, and there will be a little pinch on the way, but we can't afford to lose this opportunity and put the burden on the wind industry itself,’ he said. ‘We've got to fix this integration issue.’

The congressman also advocated changing the regulatory process so that developing wind projects is not a cumbersome process.

‘If we cannot efficiently and effectively provide environmental regulation, if we've got too many hoops and nonsensical programs that don't really cut to what we're trying to accomplish, we are not serving the environmental interests,’ he said. ‘And we're not serving consumer interests. We need your help to work on a new vision for regulation that is performance-driven.’

Blumenauer also expressed support for a national renewable electricity standard.

‘We ought to get across the finish line on the federal level,’ he said. ‘There's nothing partisan about it; there's nothing ideological about it.’

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