In the Toolkit --


  • Guide to the Toolkit
  • Leagues in Action
  • I. Choosing a Role for Your League

    II. Grassroots Action Priorities

  • Climate Action
  • Price on Carbon
  • Our Children's Trust
  • Energy Efficient Buildings
  • Renewable Energy
  • Adapting to Climate Change
  • III. Basics of Climate Change

    IV. Engaging Individuals

  • Communicating About Climate Change
  • Preparing for a Meeting on Climate Change
  • Engaging Groups in Your Community
  • V. Promoting Public Policy

  • Community Action Models
  • Organizing For Community Action
  • Tips for Building Grassroots Support
  • League Action on Climate Change
  • International Action
  • VI. Resources


    Wind is one of the largest of the renewable energy resources for electricity generation in the U.S. -- and the wind industry is growing rapidly. It accounted for 35 percent of all new U.S. electricity generating capacity over the past four years, second only to natural gas. By the end of 2012, the U.S. had a total of 60 gigawatts (GW) of installed wind capacity -- generating enough electricity to power well over 14 million homes. 

    According to the American Wind Energy Association, 39 states plus Puerto Rico now have utility-scale wind installations. Wind power is contributing a growing percentage of the U.S. electricity mix, with both Iowa and South Dakota now generating 20 percent of their electricity from wind.  

    Two major drivers of wind power development have been the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the state-level Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), or Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). The PTC provides a 2.2 cent/kWh (kilowatt-hour) tax credit for the first ten years of electricity production. An RPS or RES requires electric utilities to supply a specified minimum percentage of their retail electric sales with electricity from eligible renewable sources, with the percentage increasing in a predictable way over time.

    Potential. The U.S. has abundant wind resources. A 2010 assessment from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory showed that U.S. onshore wind resources had a potential electricity generating capacity of more than 10,000 GW, enough to generate more than nine times the total U.S. electricity consumption that year.

    In addition, offshore wind resources from 26 coastal states and the Great Lakes have an electricity generating potential of another 4,150 GW. As a comparison, the total U.S. electric generating capacity from all sources in 2008 was 1,010 GW. Offshore wind resources have the added advantage of being able to deliver power directly to major coastal cities where demand for electricity is high. 

    Challenges. Wind is an intermittent (variable) resource. Wind power needs to be backed up by other forms of electricity generation and/or energy storage systems. Variability can be reduced significantly, however, by connecting wind farms over a wide geographic area. Wind resources are also unevenly distributed, with some of the best wind resources located far from the population centers that need electricity. New transmission infrastructure is needed to bring wind-generated electricity to end users. Siting issues also need to be addressed, including concerns about noise and impacts on wildlife.

    Benefits. Wind power avoids many of the negative environmental impacts of electricity generation from fossil fuels, including GHG emissions as well as emissions of mercury and other toxic air pollutants. In addition, fossil fuel and nuclear power generation use significant quantities of water for power plant cooling while wind power generation uses no water during operation. Wind energy also avoids the environmental degradation associated with coal mining, including air and water pollution, land degradation, and fly ash disposal, as well as the concerns associated with nuclear power, including the risk of leakage of radioactive material and the storage of nuclear waste.


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    Last updated: 10/30/2013