In support of Advanced Energy Initiative objective to expand the use of wind energy, the Wind Energy Program is increasing its efforts to overcome near-term deployment barriers to wind by enhancing public acceptance, promoting supportive public policies, engaging key stakeholders, and addressing siting and environmental issues.
In 1999, only four states boasted more than 100 MW of installed wind capacity. By the end of 2006, 16 states had more than 100 MW and six more states are expected to reach that capacity by the end of 2007. The goal of the DOE Wind Powering America (WPA) project is for 30 states to have 100 MW of wind installed by 2010.
To achieve its goal, WPA supports the formation of state wind working groups, providing stakeholders with timely information on the current state of wind technology, economics, state wind resources, economic development impacts, and policy options/ issues. Group members include landowners and agricultural sector representatives, utilities and regulators, colleges and universities, advocacy groups, and state and local officials. In 2006, WPA launched four new state wind working groups in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and New Jersey, bringing the total number of state wind working groups to 29. WPA also supported events in 11 states and convened its 5th annual All-States Summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The summit provided participants with an opportunity to share strategies and lessons learned and to visit with experts on topics such as avian and wildlife issues, siting, transmission, community wind, small wind, Native American projects, operating impacts, utility myths, regulators, radar, interconnection, and wind resources and mapping.
Rising fuel costs, low commodity prices, and a lack of jobs are just a few of the economic issues faced by rural communities nationwide.
To address these issues, WPA works with rural community leaders, U.S. Department of Agriculture local and national representatives, state and local officials, the Farm Bureau, the Farmers’ Union, repre-sentatives of growers associations, agricultural schools, and the local financial community to explore wind development options, benefits, and barriers. Achieving the goals of WPA during the next 20 years will create $60 billion in capital investment in rural America, provide $1.2 billion in new income for farmers and rural landowners, and create 80,000 new jobs.
The United States is home to more than 700 Native American tribes located on 96 million acres (39 million hectares), much of which have excellent wind resources that could be commercially developed to provide electricity and revenue to the reservations. Before these resources can be fully realized, many issues need to be resolved. These include the lack of wind resource data, tribal utility policies, sovereignty, perceived developer risk, limited loads, invest-ment capital, technical expertise, and transmission to markets.
To support the development of Native American wind resources, WPA provides a wide range of technical assistance and outreach activities to more than 20 tribes from 13 states. To help tribes understand their wind resource and potential development options, WPA administers a Native American Anemometer Loan Program.
In 2006, WPA helped install four 40- to50-m (130 to 165 ft) towers and one 20-m (65 ft) tower. Installation of two to four more of the tall towers is anticipated in 2007.
WPA also provides wind energy training for Native Americans
through the DOE-supported Wind Energy Applications and Training Symposium (WEATS) at the NWTC. Training sessions in the 2006 symposium included Wind Applications, Wind Fundamentals, Small Wind (on- and off-grid applications), Site Selection and Wind Resource Assessment, Land Agreements/Environmental Review, Permitting, Interconnection and Transmission, and Wind Integration.
Participants also toured the NWTC and the Ponnequin Wind Farm.
At a grass-roots level, WPA is engaging rural America in a discussion of wind energy while developing a knowledge base through its Wind for Schools (WfS) project. The objectives of the project are to:
WPA launched it first WfS project in Colorado in 2006 and plans to replicate the process in Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho in 2007-2008.
The Grassland Shrub Steppe Species Collaborative – a 4-year effort to study the impact of wind turbines on prairie chicken habitats in Kansas, is one study being conducted with program support to help understand wind-wildlife interactions.
WPA also works with universities and non-government organiza-tions to address wind turbine siting issues such as aesthetics, radar interference, and wind-wildlife interactions. In 2006, the program worked with AWEA, the National Wind Coordinating Committee (NWCC), and other federal agencies on wind power-radar interaction issues that affected more than 1000 MW of planned installations.
Wind power-radar interaction issues gained national attention in 2006 due to the potential for radar operations to be affected by wind turbines. Interference occurs when radar signals are reflected back by wind turbines causing clutter on the radar screens. In July, more than 100 experts, including representatives from AWEA, DOE, the Department of Defense, and the Federal Aviation Administration attended a Wind Power and Radar Issue Forum brief convened by the NWCC to discuss the influence of wind energy on aviation radar and possible mitigation strategies. This collaboration and follow-on interaction helped facilitate the approval of 950 MW of wind projects.
To help resolve wind-wildlife interactions, the program supported two collaborative efforts, the Grassland Shrub Steppe Species Collaborative—a 4-year effort to study the impact of wind turbines on prairie chicken habitats in Kansas—and the Bat and Wind Energy Collaborative that investigates bat and wind turbine interaction. In addition, the NWCC hosted its sixth Wildlife Research Meeting in Texas. The purpose of the meeting was to bring participants up-to-date on research being con-ducted to understand the interaction of birds, bats, and other wildlife with wind energy development, examine what has been learned about ways to minimize or mitigate wind energy’s impacts on wildlife, and identify gaps in knowledge and research needs.