What’s the Holdup? How Bureaucratic Obstacles Are Undercutting the True Potential of American Wind Power
Wind power is now the fastest growing source of alternative energy in the United States, due in part to desires to increase utilization of cleaner energy and to withdraw from dependence on foreign energy. Studies have shown that if properly harnessed, the United States has enough wind-energy potential to provide well over the amount of electricity currently consumed nationally. Capitalizing on this potential, thirty-eight states currently maintain utility-scale wind projects, with fourteen states amassing over one thousand megawatts (mW) of energy from these projects. Although all current wind power generated in the United States is produced through land-based operations, the country is pursuing offshore projects—specifically the perpetually delayed Cape Wind project located off the coast of Massachusetts. If the United States wants to continue expansion of wind power both efficiently and lucratively, it must develop a regulatory scheme designed, updated, and maintained specifically for this growing market.
The United States does not have any centralized regulatory, statutory, or administrative authority designed specifically to address wind energy. Potential wind projects—often-called wind farms—must traipse through a mire of local, state, and federal regulations, few of which provide regularity or guidance from project to project. On the federal level, an amalgamation of statutes governs various facets of a wind project’s evolution: permitting, development, decommission, taxation, and rights to opposition are all governed by many different laws. In addition, states generally have their own radically different approaches to handling wind power. Many states even allow cities and towns to pass their own ordinances for handling wind power, which often result in moratoriums or competition between neighbors for lucrative turbine leases. Without any national voice or approach to the development of wind technology, the United States is at a dramatic disadvantage to countries that have taken a proactive approach to wind technology’s introduction. . .
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