Here’s the vision: double our country’s wind energy by 2020, and boost it to 20 percent wind by 2030 and up to 35 percent by 2050. That is the goal the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) laid out at its annual WINDPOWER conference last week. More than 8,000 leaders from all aspects of the wind energy industry joined together to collaborate on how we can achieve that goal.
So far this year, the wind industry is continuing to make great strides. By March there were already more than 100 wind farms totaling 13,000 MW of power under construction. That is enough wind to power about 4 million homes. Those wind farms are spread across 21 states, boosting local economies, driving job creation, and paving the way for a cleaner, healthier, energy future.
As a longtime leader in the wind energy industry, Clean Line Energy’s Executive Vice President, Jayshree Desai, co-chaired the conference. And a major theme throughout the conference was the need for more electric transmission to get this valuable energy resource to market. This theme was echoed by utility executives, state regulators, wind developers and environmental groups alike.
As a manager on the Rock Island Clean Line project, I was thrilled to see a strong presence from companies in Iowa and Illinois at the conference. More than 40 businesses with offices in Iowa or Illinois had impressive booths showcasing their contributions to the wind industry. These construction companies, manufacturers, wind energy developers, and others, joined with the Iowa Lakes Community College, Western Iowa Tech Community College, Iowa Economic Development Authority, and Illinois Wind Energy Team out of the Illinois State University to drum up more wind energy business and economic development opportunities in our states.
It was an impressive conference, motivating me to work even harder to open up new wind energy development opportunities through Clean Line’s electric transmission projects.