Win-Wind: Nuclear Power Setback Could Be Windpower's Gain

May 09 -
> Claremore Daily Progress, Okla. -
> U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) announced Thursday the budget
> slash delivered by President Barack Obama to the proposed Yucca
> Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nevada means the project will be shut
> down.
> "It's over," said Reid in a video posted to the senator's Web
> site. In that video, Reid commends Obama for staying true to his word.
> "The only monies used now will be to terminate the project."
> Opponents of nuclear power cite the issue of waste disposal as a
> primary concern. Proponents have pointed to Yucca Mountain as the
> solution.
> That's a solution Reid has opposed for two decades. The proposed
> nuclear waste dump is 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
> If the Yucca Mountain project is indeed dead, that could be a
> setback to future development of nuclear energy. The current "green"
> push is for renewable energy sources including wind, a developing
> industry in Oklahoma.
> "The WINDPOWER 2009 Conference in Chicago is wrapping up today,"
> said DMI General Manager Gary Williams on Thursday. The Catoosa
> factory manufactures wind towers. Williams attended the conference on
> Wednesday which saw notables such as T. Boone Pickens.
> "We need a national renewable plan," said Williams. He said Obama
> has been helpful and the current administration has adopted elements
> of Pickens's plan.
> "Transmission lines are a big part of that," said Williams. He,
> like other energy industry officials, say the government should invest
> in a national transmission system similar to the investment made in
> the highway system.
> Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has said renewable energy
> will take high priority under the current administration.
> Last month, Reid introduced the Clean Renewable Energy and
> Economic Development Act which is intended to promote investment in
> the transmission of electricity with the lion's share of that
> transmission capacity reserved for renewable sources such as wind and
> solar power. The proposed bill also addresses nation-level
> transmission planning.
> According to the American Wind Energy Association, the Clean
> Energy Aspects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act sign by
> Obama Feb. 17 represents "significant and positive benefits for the
> renewable energy industry."
> Highlights of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of
> 2009 as it
> affects renewable energy include tax credits, grants, a new Department
> of Energy loan guarantee program directing $4 billion to promote
> renewable energy and $2 billion to promote transmission, and other
> incentives.
> Williams said support for wind energy will have a positive
> trickle-down effect in Oklahoma.
> "It will benefit the supply chain," said Williams. Additional
> transmission and wind farms means more business for DMI, and more
> production at DMI means local employment and the purchase of other
> goods and services from area business.
> Affordable, renewable energy and a decreased reliance on foreign
> oil is part of the goal proposed by renewable energy proponents.
> Though wind energy is only expected to comprise a small percentage of
> Oklahoma's overall energy portfolio, it is an important part of a
> diverse folder of options for the windy state. The Oklahoma Wind Power
> Initiative, a collaborative project between the states two major
> public universities, is devoted to the investigation and promotion of
> wind energy in Oklahoma.
> Rural states like Oklahoma, Texas and Nevada are likely to be
> some of the biggest winners if wind energy continues to grow.
> Reid's bill, if passed into law, is certainly designed to benefit
> Nevada with the state's potential for solar, wind and geothermal
> renewable energy resources.
> Critics say Reid's bill would give too much power to the federal
> government to establish "green zones," requiring states to comply by
> building transmission lines that must transmit high percentages of
> renewable energy.
> Proponents say the bill is intended to promote investment in
> transmission.
> Power industry officials in Oklahoma have long said transmission
> is an issue of growing concern. In the case of wind generation, it is
> critical.
> Wind farms are often located in remote areas. Without
> transmission lines, there is no way to get the power generated by
> those wind turbines to customers who need the power.
> Transmission is a factor in traditional energy generation as
> well.
> Currently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is working on
> the issue. As of mid-March FERC accelerated the development of a
> "Smart Grid."
> The primary effect of the gird would be more efficient transmission
> with less loss of energy along the way.
> "By minimizing line losses, Smart Grid technologies will allow
> generators to produce less energy and less pollution, while delivering
> the same amount of electricity to customers," said FERC Commissioner
> Philip Moeller in a March 19 press release.
> Meantime, the wind power industry has suffered along with the
> rest of the nation.
> "The general industry thinking is that 2010 will be much better
> than 2009," said Williams.
> He said current politics will set policy that affects the
> industry.
> "We need our legislators to keep the ball moving. We're
> positioned well here in Oklahoma to profit by wind."