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Environmental

Is the credit crunch and lack of transmission capacity slowing the growth of wind power? Probably so, though perhaps not for long

Because of nearly $16 billion in investment in 2008, America overtook Germany to become the world’s biggest wind-power generator last year. Wind accounted for 42% of new generating capacity, up from just 2% four years earlier. But this year momentum has slowed due to problems with transmission availability and the credit crunch.
 
The industry is hopeful that new legislation will give the Federal Energy Regulation Commission power to speed up the licensing and transmission construction process.
 
The biggest boost to wind, if it is enacted, is contained in the Global Warming legislation now before Congress. It would require power companies to get a fixed proportion of their electricity from renewable sources, as is currently the law in 33 states. The House version of the Global Warming legislation includes an obligation to buy renewables, but the American Wind Energy Association argues it is too modest a requirement (no surprise there). The fate of the legislation is the Senate is far from certain. Even if the legislation does not pass in its entirety, some form of obligation in terms of alternative energy remains a possibility. Wind accounts for just under 2% of America’s electricity. Despite the lull this year, that proportion seems certain to keep growing.