The Politics of Wind Power in the USA

Wind Power in the USA – ( Solar Thermal Magazine)

Wind power is subject to political pressures just like any other type of renewable energy. The issue of wind power has divided Americans into two antagonistic groups. On one hand, there are those whose view is that wind power is an asset and should be given the attention it deserves. On the other hand, there are those who argue that wind power is more of a liability than an asset.

Offshore wind power in the USA is very controversial with Not In My Backyard attitudes

Offshore wind power in the USA is very controversial with Not In My Backyard attitudes

The following criteria is used to determine the membership in any of the group:

-The stand of policy makers such as the president and congress towards renewable energy (in this case wind power).
-The acceptability (or lack of it thereof) of the renewable energy in question (wind energy)
-The expected gains or losses arising from its implementation.
-The impact on the environment.

The Politics of Wind Power: Proponents

There are several political factors that have contributed to the adoption of wind power in the United States. To start with, it would be unfair not to recognize the great work genuinely done by some American policy makers irrespective of their party and expected gains. For example, when Barrack Obama was elected president, he pledged to spend $ 150 billion in the next ten years on renewable energy projects. He chose to fulfill the ambitious plans through companies such as Vestas- the wind turbine maker. Similarly, lawmakers in Texas must be hailed for their positive work in positioning their state as the most dominant in using wind power.

Second, a significant number of Americans have been successfully convinced that wind power is beneficial. They have recognized that tourists and turbines can co-exist in harmony. They cite that United States should emulate China and Poland where wind power is so accepted to an extent that wedding photos are taken in wind farms.

Lastly, many Americans have supported wind energy due to the positive impact it has on the environment. Highly notable is the fact that wind power does not use water and creates no waste. It therefore scores a high mark when it comes to the efforts needed in reduction of pollution.

The Politics of Wind Power: Opponents

The road to implementation of wind energy has been full of controversy and opposition. To start with, there are industrialists and entrepreneurs who have been very vocal in discouraging the use of wind power. This is because they benefit from dirty energy or other types of clean energy. For example, the Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy has been concerned that wind power is too cheap to allow other forms of energy to have a reliable share of the market.

A number of Americans have not accepted wind power for various reasons. They cite reasons such as low frequency noise, overshadowing a unique landscape, and health hazards to flora and fauna. For example, Maine regulators put on hold two long term wind power projects citing complains and dissatisfaction from the public. Similarly, the Cape Wind project in has attracted the wrath of real estate professionals such as realtors who state that it will depress the value of the property in the surrounding area.

Can’t we just get along when it comes to wind energy?

It is utopian to think that any decision can receive unanimous support. Even when there is a general agreement, circumstances do change. It is critical that the dissident groups are not ignored. Rather, listening to their grievances and making appropriate project modification will give a wind project legitimacy and will therefore help it achieve its mandate. It could be said that projects including wind ventures cannot be divorced from politics. After all, politics is who gets what, when, and how.

About Gordon Smith
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.

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