Wind energy leaders say Congress holds keys to future

DALLAS — Make no bones about it: Leaders in the fast-growing U.S. wind power industry believe that their prospects for success are tightly intertwined with policy decisions made in Washington, especially by Congress.

The American Wind Energy Association, holding its annual national conference at the Dallas Convention Center, wants lawmakers to take three major actions to boost the industry's long-term prospects:

Adopt a "25 x '25" national renewable-electricity standard, calling for 25 percent of electricity to be from wind power and other renewable sources by 2025.

Approve a long-term extension of the production tax credit, which provides the wind industry a subsidy of 2.1 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity it generates. The credit will expire at the end of 2012 if no action is taken.

Authorize a major expansion and modernization of the U.S. power grid to link wind farms, often located in remote rural areas, to major population centers, where power demand is heaviest.

About 20,000 wind industry professionals, government leaders and others are attending the conference, where former President George W. Bush is expected to speak at a general session at 8:30 this morning.

Denise Bode, the group's executive director, said Monday that the U.S. wind industry "is on the edge of explosive growth" but for that to become reality Congress must adopt a strong renewable-electricity standard, which could also be fulfilled with solar, geothermal and biomass energy.

"Congress, by not acting, is allowing our lighthouse to dim," Bode said.

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