The economy is still in rough shape and today’s action on Wall Street will certainly attest to that sentiment. Yet despite the tough times, wind energy continues to develop, cutting down our carbon footprint and our reliance on dirtier methods of generation.

Despite the current economic struggles, the world’s biggest wind farm was recently announced in Roscoe, Texas. At 781.5 megawatts – enough to power more than 230,000 homes – it edged out the neighboring 735 MW Horse Hollow wind farm to snag the blue ribbon title. With projects of that magnitude, it’s no wonder that Texas is the state leader in installed net capacity (8,361 megawatts and counting). Iowa, California, and Minnesota, are the respective runners-up to the Lone Star State.

The wind farm itself is largely the result of one man’s initial vision. The idea of a large-scale wind farm in the area was brought to the attention of developers by Cliff Etheredge, a one-armed, 65 year-old farmer in the area. The power of one is demonstrated again.

Cliff Etheredge

Cliff Etheredge, the man behind the Roscoe Wind Farm, stands in front of several turbines.

Moreover, public policies continue to make financing options available to financiers of wind projects. The stimulus bill has already affected a dramatic impact on wind’s fortunes in the form of U.S. Treasury cash grants. These grants, which became available in the summer of this year, have picked up the slack of the sagging production tax credit (PTC) providing wind and other renewable energy projects with 30% of their production costs. Since their introduction, approximately $950 million has been fueled into projects that are under or nearing construction. Most of this money has gone to wind energy projects. A separate provision of the stimulus bill extended the availability of PTC’s by five years. Pending a continuing economic recovery, this is an important provision as the PTC’s are more effective than the cash grants in freer lending markets.

Other government initiatives continue to back wind. $2.2 billion Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREB’s) have also gone to government agencies, public power providers, and cooperative electric companies involved in clean renewable energy development and production. The midwestern entities that applied for the bonds largely did so with wind power projects in mind. And the energy bill circulating through the Senate calls for a national renewable energy standard that will cement dedication to wind and other renewables in federal legislation.

Despite a recession that refuses to end, wind power has remained an important asset to America’s energy plans. The future looks promising. Some economists are already forecasting 2010 as the strongest year for wind, ever.

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