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Across the country wind power plans are facing stiff resistance from utility companies, and in some cases locals.  (Source: Treehugger)

The aging power grid is also hindering U.S. wind power efforts, and you'll find little sympathy among the utilities who operate on it.  (Source: University of Chicago)
Companies aren't happy with the success of the alternative energy offering

Wind power is booming in the U.S., which recently seized the world lead in wind power deployment.  Many are excited about the prospect of domestically produced, low-emission power.  Admittedly there are problems -- the potential for property devaluation, minor ecological damage, possible health effects for those living nearby (according to some studies), volatile generation capacity and relatively high costs -- but that's hardly stopped wind power from expanding, especially with government subsidies blowing cash into the pockets of alternative energy firms.

However, some are not as thrilled about wind power and are attacking the government's support of it.  Leading the charge are several power utility groups.  One such group is a coalition of East Coast utility companies calling itself the Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy.  They fear that prime wind conditions in the Midwest, combined with government subsidies may make wind power cheaper than coal power.  They're trying to levy additional costs on the wind power producers and roll back the subsidies.

Likewise, natural gas producers and generators in Texas are lobbying the state's government to penalize wind power producers for lulls in generation with fines and by forcing them to pay part of the costs of backup natural gas generators. 

Yet another initiative that's threatening the industry is a measure put forth by U.S. Senators from New York, Ohio, Montana and Pennsylvania which demands that wind developers buying blades, turbines and other components from abroad have their grants cut.  States one of the Senators, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York), "It is a no-brainer that stimulus funds should only go to projects that create jobs in the United States rather than overseas."

He argues that the Chinese are profiteering off the U.S.'s wind subsidies, pointing to a Chinese firm that's backing one of the proposed Texas farms.  He and the others reference a study that claims that U.S. renewable energy grants are being dominated by foreign interests.

The American Wind Energy Association, backed by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, disputes the facts in that study.  They point to the 85,000 jobs the wind industry has created in the U.S.  In addition, they point to increased production efforts in the U.S., stating, "In three years, we went from two turbine manufacturers with facilities in the U.S. to nine, and four more have announced plans for factories here."

Secretary Chu reasons, "You do not want to stop these projects if two-thirds is American and one-third is foreign."

Overall the picture for wind energy's future in the U.S. is murky.  There's a wealth of alternative energy legislation and measures on the local, state, and federal levels, but much controversy over these measures.  At stake are billions of dollars of power revenue and billions of dollars in alternative energy installations.  Even if wind can prevail against its opponents, it may have trouble overcoming an even more dangerous foe -- the U.S.'s decrepit power grid.

Some, including President Obama, have suggested that nuclear energy may be an acceptable substitute for wind in terms of producing clean and domestically-fueled energy.  However, there's little doubt that if wind falls flat and nuclear charges ahead that the same big interests will attack the government's plans to back nuclear energy start ups.

The key questions facing America is whether expensive change, be it nuclear or wind, is needed on the energy front.  The major utilities argue that the answer is no, while others say the answer is obviously yes.  The second major question is if it is indeed time for change, what kinds of power should be embraced.  You'll find no consensus on that topic.




"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007













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