Wind Advocates Rally in Dallas

 

Houston may be working frantically to clean up the oil spill, but Dallas is focusing on a different kind of energy this week: wind.

The American Wind Energy Association is holding its annual conference here (“kind of a Woodstock for capitalists,” joked Cathy Zoi, an assistant secretary of energy), with a record 20,000 people in attendance. Its intended message could not be clearer: The federal government needs to help speed the growth of the clean-energy industry.

“We need a strong renewable electricity standard now,” Denise Bode, the chief executive of the wind group, told attendees on Monday morning. She was referring to congressional efforts to pass a requirement that the nation get a certain percentage of its electricity — say, 20 percent, as proposed by Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota — from renewable energy in the future.

Currently, renewables other than dams supply 3.5 percent of the nation’s electricity.

About half the states have a renewable energy requirement. Even Oklahoma, whose senators have led the charge against the notion of human-caused global warming, is thinking of passing one. But a national requirement has eluded Congress.

Mr. Dorgan, who also spoke at the conference and is retiring next year, urged the creation of an “an interstate highway of transmission capability,” something that windy, but sparsely populated, North Dakota is particularly interested in. However, transmission development has been slowed by difficulties with siting and pricing the lines.

Mr. Dorgan noted that oil and gas developers in the United States had received strong tax incentives in those industries’ early days in the 1910s, whereas recent tax incentives for wind power have been weaker and stop-and-start.

“Let’s do what we did for other energy sources,” he said.

By KATE GALBRAITH/NYT

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