Wind Developers’ Congressional Testimony Focuses On Federal Policy Stability

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Land-based and offshore wind energy developers testified this week before Congress about the need for consistent and long-term federal policies to support the deployment of renewable energy, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports.

The land-based wind developers also focused on rules recently proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that threaten hundreds of wind farms with years of delays and millions of dollars in costs, according AWEA, which submitted extensive public comments on the two FWS policies of concern: the Draft Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines and the Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance.

‘The number-one obstacle our industry faces is uncertainty,’ Susan Reilly, president and CEO of RES Americas Inc., told the House Natural Resources Committee. ‘While these rules were no doubt well-intended, all of this uncertainty will make financing projects more difficult and cause buyers to shy away from signing purchase contracts.’

According to AWEA, the draft documents from the FWS propose overly burdensome standards for wind energy projects even though, according to data from the FWS and analysis by the National Academy of Sciences, wind energy is only a minor contributor to wildlife mortality.Â

Reilly was joined by Roby Roberts, vice president of communications and government affairs for Horizon Wind Energy and chairman of AWEA's siting committee.Â

Roberts focused on industry concerns related to the draft land-based guidelines. He urged a return to the consensus approach that was recommended to the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior by a federal advisory committee representing state officials, tribes and wildlife experts and the wind industry. The committee spent two-and-a-half years developing guidelines for wind farms and wildlife supported by science, but also workable from a business perspective, according to AWEA.

The offshore wind industry witnesses, James Gordon, president of Cape Wind Associates LLC, and Jim Lanard, president of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition, also testified on the need for stable and longer-term federal policy support, including an extension of the investment tax credit and extending the U.S. Department of Energy's loan-guarantee program.

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