Momentum building behind U.S. wind energy

For the first time ever, federal government uses congressional authority to join wind power program.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   March 28, 2016 at 6:19 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 28 (UPI) -- U.S. wind energy advocates scored a second victory after the federal government gave its support to a transmission line to service the wind power sector.

For the first time, the Department of Energy used authority mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to foster cooperation between the private and public sectors on new electricity transmission projects by joining a line slated for the U.S. South.

The development, led by Clean Line Energy Partners, is aimed at bringing up to 4,000 megawatts of power generated from wind in Oklahoma and Texas through a 705-mile power line that would serve the energy needs of up to 1.5 million homes in the region.

Simon Mahan, a director for the Southern Wind Energy Association, said the federal inclusion is emblematic of a region he said is the new U.S. frontier for wind energy development.

"High voltage direct current transmission projects that allow for the import of substantial quantities of low-cost wind power are an important component of the clean energy strategy for utilities in the Southeast," he said in a statement.

Data released last week from the U.S. Energy Department show wind power accounted for 41 percent of all new electric generation capacity last year. On a state-by-state basis, Texas and Oklahoma were among those states leading the way in terms of new installations.

Clean Line Energy Partners said they reached a $300 million agreement with Oklahoma company Pelco to help build the transmission infrastructure necessary to support wind power.

"Moving remote and plentiful power to areas where electricity is in high demand is essential for building the grid of the future," U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement.

Wind energy advocates scored a win last week after the U.S. government announced it was opening up about 81,000 acres of federal waters off the coast of New York for potential large-scale wind energy operations. The country has no offshore wind energy components in commercial operations.

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