Industry Pushes for Wind Energy Incentives

Texas is one of the nation's leading producers of wind energy. A panel of experts came to the WINDPOWER 2008 Conference & Exhibition in Houston to discuss how the US can increase its production of the renewable power. Laurie Johnson has more.
A recent study released by the Department of Energy shows wind power could provide 20 percent of the nation's electricity in two decades. The energy industry would have to overcome a number of obstacles to achieve that.

Industry insiders says one of the first steps would be to extend the tax credits that companies get for producing wind energy.

"What we need to do is, from the wind energy association perspective, is we really need this producer tax credit extended this year. And we need to be at the same time working to move beyond that as something that's essential to the wind industry and into broader U.S. national energy policy."

That's Retired General Wesley Clark, who now works in the private sector. He says the Congress needs to enact a national energy policy that would incentivise renewable energy production.

"The difficulty is in the details. People can sketch this out, but the details have to be worked. There are a lot of constituencies and stakeholders involved, not least of which is the American public. And so this is a real leadership challenge."

Rising gasoline and natural gas costs, along with an increased demand for electricity are driving the development of wind energy.

Gregory Wetstone is with the American Wind Energy Association.

"Obviously wind is positioned to be a big part of the solution. We have the report now wind could be 20 percent by 2030, we're situated to be an early contributor in the critical first years of the climate solution. And the question is can we get those policies that would allow us to deploy as much wind as possible as quickly as possible."

Wetstone says he believes the future of energy production will be driven by private-sector investment. But he adds, the public policies should be in place ahead of time to guide the private sector.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...