Wind Energy Highlighted

Forum sponsored by the 25x’25 Alliance pursues ways to remove barriers to the development of community wind facilities and distributed wind systems.

| May 13, 2011

Administration officials and wind energy stakeholders agreed to pursue a series of steps to remove barriers to the development of community wind facilities and distributed wind systems.

Updating or creating financing mechanisms that can generate small wind development was a top priority among proposals agreed upon by representatives of USDA, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and several stakeholder groups at a forum hosted by the 25x’25 Alliance at USDA.

“Community and distributed wind projects are an important element of our nation's energy strategy and the role federal agencies can and should play to support their development drove our discussion,” says Peggy Beltrone, president of Exergy Integrated Systems, a member of the National 25x'25 Steering Committee, and co-chair of the recent roundtable.

Forum participants agreed to continue meeting in the near term to further address financing, policy, deployment and social acceptance barriers to community wind. To be discussed in future sessions will be the re-engineering and streamlining of existing federal programs, and the tailoring of federal procurement programs to incentivize the development of community wind facilities.

"Community wind projects support multiple national goals, providing clean and secure energy and rural economic benefits," Beltrone says. "Federal agencies have the power to clear a path for this important segment of renewables by coordinating efforts through, for example, funding from USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Under the auspices of USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, (this) roundtable discussion showed that these agencies are willing to use their collective power and to advance right-sized solutions for Rural Americans."

Roundtable participants learned that community wind emphasizes local ownership and encompasses a broad range of formats, from private partnerships among rural landowners, to projects by consumer-owned utilities, schools and native tribes, to collaborative structures that engage outside organizations, though generally leaving local owners with more significant returns than utility-scale wind projects.

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