Despite ranking 16th among the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) top 20 states for wind energy potential, Wisconsin only added 18 megawatts (MW) of wind energy capacity in 2012. In contrast, two other Midwestern states, Michigan and Ohio, installed 138 MW and 308 MW respectively in the first three quarters, reported Midwestern Energy News. That is bad news for a state that has the potential to provide over four times its current electricity needs.
An unfriendly government policy climate may have a lot to do with it. Currently, there are two bills sponsored by State Senator Frank Lasee, member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), that would hamper the wind sector in Wisconsin. Siting of wind facilities in Wisconsin is governed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) under a 2009 law. SB 71 would allow local officials to impose a restriction on a wind energy system that is more restrictive than PSC rules. Lasee also sponsored a bill that would allow families who think they have been hurt by industrial wind turbines to sue for medical and moving expenses, the Green Bay Press Gazette reports.
“The wind industry has done their best to downplay the potential health issues,” said Lasee. “I have three families in my district that have moved out of their homes; I have affidavits from 50 families that have been negatively affected.”
A 2011 poll by Wisconsin Public Radio found that 77 percent of respondents want to see Wisconsin invest more in clean energy. The survey, which polled 400 Wisconsin residents, found that 69 percent said they wouldn’t mind if eight to 10 wind turbines were placed near their homes, and 79 percent favored placing turbines offshore of Lake Michigan.
Missouri lags behind
The “show me” state does not have much to show in the way of wind energy either. The 150 MW Lost Creek wind farm is Missouri’s largest, and is also the last to to be built (over two years ago). No wind energy projects have been developed since then. In contrast, Kansas, Iowa and Illinois each added at least 1,400 MW, and each added more wind capacity in the last quarter of 2012 than Missouri currently has installed. Missouri has a total of six wind farms that generate 459 MW. Missouri ranks 13th in AWEA’s top 20 states for wind energy potential, with Iowa ranking 14th. Missouri has a renewable energy standard of 15 percent by 2021, voted by state residents through a ballot measure in 2008.
In contrast, last year, Ohio almost quadrupled its wind energy capacity, bringing its total to 428 MW. Most of the growth came from the 305 MW Blue Creek Wind Farm. In contrast, Texas installed 1,826 MW, the most of any state, and has the most installed capacity with 12,214 MW. The Ohio General Assembly is considering changing a 2008 law that established a renewable energy standard.
The U.S. wind energy sector reached a major milestone
Last year, wind energy was the number one source of new electricity generating capacity, with 42 percent of all the MWs the power sector installed coming from wind, according to AWEA’s recently released U.S. Wind Industry Annual Marketing Report 2012. The U.S. wind sector installed 60 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, which is the equivalent of powering 15.2 million homes, or equivalent to all the households in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio combined.
Photo: Flickr user, Sam Howzit