We noted yesterday that the Institute for Local Self-Reliance had released a new report showing how current federal law discourages local ownership of power plants while highlighting how the removal of two federal-level barriers could dramatically enhance local ownership and investment in renewable energy projects. Congressman Walz's bill to revise the tax code to do just that is mentioned.
News of the report is spreading; today, North American Windpower published Report Explores Democratic Routes To Energy Independence. Despite the headline style, that's a small "d" democracy, meaning that more people get to participate and take ownership in energy production. Some of that can be through co-operatives; other avenues including revising the tax code so that local individuals can take a tax credit for investing their private dollars in wind and other renewable energy projects.
Why has Walz championed this legislation, as well as backing an extension of the production tax credit? It's easy: just read the area papers. As is so often the case in the congressional district that was ranked fifth in the country in 2007 for the production of wind energy, the area papers frequently carry news of this industry and economic boon.
Today's Mountain Lake Observer/Butterfield Advocate published A definite change in the air. The lead:
You’ve come a long way windmill.
They progressed from four wooden blades, to six metal blades, to a trio of sleek blades manufactured using state-of-the-art vacuum-assisted resin infusion molding technology.
The jobs they do have dramatically shifted from grinding grain and pumping water to providing 15% to 20% of the City of Mt. Lake’s yearly expected power demand.
According to Mt. Lake City Administrator Wendy Meyer, “We (Utility Commission) are right where we thought we would be.
"The wind turbine is performing as anticipated.”
Mt. Lake’s wind turbine was erected on June 5, 2007, with commissioning activities carried out during July 2007 and August 2007. .
Today's Rochester Post Bulletin opines favorably about wind energy in Minnesota rides crest of wind-energy expansion. And there's news of the industry too, in articles like Newest wind farm helps meet renewable energy mandates and SMMPA signs 20-year wind-energy agreement.
The endorsed GOP candidate opposes renewable energy standards; the NRCC poohs-poohs the production tax credit for renewable energy. Given the importance of the wind industy to the district, positions and statements like that have prompted us to repeatedly wonder in this blog just what in God's good green earth Republican party leadership means when it whines about "being out of touch with Southern Minnesota." Perhaps someone ought hand them mirrors.
Finally, not all new wind technology is "for the grid." Today's Spring Valley Tribune notes a meeting about small-scale turbines in Local businessman hosting meeting on potential wind power turbine.
Update: We've added the graphic that illustrates that in years when the production tax credit was allowed to expire, investment in America's wind industry plunged.