Guest Commentary: The truth about wind energy in Colorado

August 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Recent guest columns in the Denver Post have criticized wind energy, calling it unaffordable, unreliable and uneconomic. This is just untrue.

Clean, American homegrown wind power is a proven source of affordable electricity and thousands of Colorado jobs. According to government and utility reports, wind energy has provided 35 percent of all new American electric generating capacity in recent years and supports about 5,000 jobs here in Colorado.

Wind energy’s one tax incentive, the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) stimulates as much as $20 billion a year in private investment in the American economy, producing economic growth that far outweighs the initial investment. As in the case with the fossil and nuclear power sectors, a small amount of support in the early stages can go a long way in terms of growth.

States that have encouraged the growth of wind have seen pollution levels fall in lockstep with increased wind generation. Colorado witnessed a 7 percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions between 2006 and 2009, while wind grew from generating 1.7 percent of Colorado’s electricity to 6.3 percent during the same period, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Wind energy creates no pollution and its generation uses no water, especially important points in these times of drought and air quality concerns.

I believe that our congressional delegation (eight of the delegation’s nine members) should be applauded, and not criticized, for its support of thousands of Colorado wind jobs and this growing form of clean electricity. Our Senators and Members of Congress understand the economic bright spot that wind power has become for Colorado and how Colorado needs a timely extension of the PTC to maintain, and build upon, this economic success story. Nationwide, over nearly 500 factories are directly involved in the wind industry, with most of these companies located in rural areas, generating important jobs in rural areas. These companies experienced 17 percent growth in business last year, and Colorado’s own beneficial number of wind-related jobs is just a part of this larger national industry growth trend that is at risk with if the PTC expires.

Wind power is a reliable and mainstream source of energy that continues to gain footing as a long-term solution to our growing demand for power in the United States. Studies comparing the impacts of different energy sources consistently find wind power’s impact among the lowest — not surprising given that it requires no mining or drilling for fuel, uses virtually no water, and creates no air pollution, water pollution, or greenhouse gases. Wind power deserves continuing public policy support in our nation’s capital.

Craig Walker is president of Walker Associates, a vendor to the wind energy manufacturing industry.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an online-only column and has not been edited.

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