Wind energy is an American success story. In the recent cold snap, lots of traditional power plants faltered, and wind energy helped keep the lights on. The government policies that have helped wind energy become more competitive with other, polluting energy sources should be celebrated, not criticized as they have been in a recent letter to the editor.
The problem isn’t the subsidy for wind energy; all energy sources are subsidized. The problem is the United States doesn’t have a long-term energy policy that encourages a portfolio of clean energy sources.
Wind power policy has supported tens of thousands of jobs in the United States, including several thousand in Illinois alone. In just over 10 years, Illinois has gone from zero wind farms to the No. 4 U.S. state for installed wind generation. These projects represent more than $7 billion in private sector capital investment, creating an economic driver that has provided more that $13 million in lease payments to Illinois farmers and more than $28 million in property taxes to Illinois communities.
Accessing America’s abundant, domestic wind energy resources also requires transmission lines, and the proposed Rock Island Clean Line is one project that can unlock more of this clean, pollution-free resource.
Rock Island will also lower electricity costs for Illinois consumers and businesses. The project is expected to inject several thousand megawatts of low-cost wind into Illinois. Recent market evidence shows that adding wind power to the electric grid significantly reduces power prices. This is because wind has no fuel cost, so wind farm owners can underbid their competitors in real-time electric markets. The Illinois Power Agency found that wind power has already lowered wholesale power costs by over $177 million in both 2011 and 2012. That means cheaper electricity for all of us.
The benefits of wind power for Illinois are many. Local, state and federal lawmakers and regulators should support the growth of this industry.
Wind on the Wires