Reports Promote Local Ownership of Wind Resources
Community Wind 101: A Primer for Policymakers
By Patrick Mazza
Minimize the impact on utilities and ratepayers through
n Ailetingforthnational feed-inproposaltoreachCongress,theRenewable EnergyJobsand twoMWinnetmeteredinstallatios. blst
r g anards wouldmakeagreat Security Act, H.R.6401, to: interconnectionandnetmetein st d
contribution to removing community wind barriers. Guarantee interconnection to the grid and long-term, fixed
payments for renewable projects up to 20 MW;
Standardized procedures for interconnection and
net metering improve community wind economics,
as would net metering that allows larger projects.
Minnesota has at least 320 MW of community wind, over
40 percent of the national total, with hundreds more in the
works. “Minnesota provides the best example of a state that has
Complexproceduresthatmakeitdi culttoconnecttothegrid implementedavarietyofcommunitywindincentives,makingit
driveupcostsandstranglemanycommunitywindprojectsinthe aleaderincommunitywinddevelopmentinthe United States,”
crib. emoretheinterconnectionprocesscanbestandardizedand Farmers Legal Action Groupobserves. Minnesotahaso ered
production incentives, guaranteed markets, standardized legal
agreements, capital support and other assistance. rough this
package the state has developed a supportive business infrastructure
that has reduced installation and operating costs.
States have moved to fill policy gaps with
production incentives and other supports.
Minnesota has developed the most successful model
in the U.S.
Federal power authorities and consumer-owned
utilities are natural partners to promote wind
power in some of the nation’s windiest regions.
In the 1920s and ‘30s federal power authorities including Western
Area Power Administration and Bonneville Power Administration
joined consumer-owned utilities to provide affordable power
through hydroelectric generation and transmission. is same array
of institutions should be at the forefront of developing the greatest
emerging new power source, wind. Repurposing federal authorities
to promote wind and therange of renewables through transmission
upgrades and power purchases could unleash new community and
corporate wind development.
e benefits of locally-owned projects justify an
increased priority on community wind.
Obstacles to community wind, though formidable, are not
insurmountable. With smart policies for community wind based
omniy madepredictable,thehigherthechancesforputtingcommunity ondemonstratedsuccessbyleadingstatesandnations,cmut
n windprojectsontheground. windcanmakesignificantcontributionstoenergysecurityad
d r Atleast37stateshaveinterconnectionstandards. e Interstate reliability, energyprice stability, pollutionreduction an rual
rmoe Renewable Energy Councilnotesthatwhileevolvingnational economicrevitalization. Community windmakesfo r
“manyofthedi cultiesassociatedwithinterconnectionnowliein ofwindpoweroverall.
the legal and procedural areas. Interconnection standards adopted
by di erent governments are largely disparate.”
Net metering, which lets distributed generators deliver surplus
power to the grid and receive a retail or near retail rate in return, is
in e ect in at least 40 states and the District of Columbia. But as of
late 2007 only 11 allow installations larger than one MW, smaller
than most utility-scale wind turbines.
Rules for both net metering and interconnection vary from
state to state, though more are employing templates such as model
standards adopted by New Jersey and Colorado which allow up to
Wind power is booming across the U.S.,
growing by 45 percent in the past year alone.
It’s a boon to many rural communities and
Most utility-scale wind power is financed
by large investors, which means that while
some jobs and land lease revenues remain
in the community, many more jobs are out-sourced and all the profit flows elsewhere.
Opening up wind power ownership to smaller investors, local lenders, farmers, ranchers,
consumer-owned utilities, school districts, colleges, Native tribes and other citizens allows
more people to enjoy the financial benefits of
wind power while accelerating its growth.
The 25x25 Alliance, Energy Foundation
and Harvesting Clean Energy have collaborated to publish a series of pamphlets outlining the advantages of local wind-power
ownership, and laying out a policy roadmap
to achieve it. The pamphlets will be invaluable to local community officials, utility co-ops, farmers and ranchers who may consider
the advantages of local ownership of their
own generating capacity.
Community Wind 101: A Primer for Policymakers can be found at tinyurl/windprimer.
The report makes clear that community
wind must be an integral part of the nation’s
energy strategy and lays out a set of public
policies designed to grow local wind investment and ownership.
Community Wind 101 finds:
l Wind power economic benefits from
local ownership can be multiplied in the
range of two to three times or more com-
pared to standard development models.
l Community wind can play a pioneering
role for all wind power and accelerate wind
development by vastly diversifying the range
of players who can invest.
l Smaller investors cannot fully access
federal tax incentives vital to wind development. Broadening the usefulness of these
incentives and/or targeting incentives
to community wind would significantly
expand local investment and ownership