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Letter: Modern wind turbines generate much electricity

Modern wind turbines generate much electricity

Wind turbines efficiently and cost-effectively generate large amounts of electricity, despite incorrect claims in Kean W. Stimm’s Aug. 19 commentary in Another Voice.

Modern wind turbines efficiently convert the wind’s energy into electricity. Advances in wind project controls also now enable turbines to work together to maximize overall wind plant output.

Thanks to these techniques and technological advances that allow turbines to access stronger, steadier winds, new wind farms typically have capacity factors exceeding 40 percent. That’s close to capacity factors for coal, hydropower and certain natural gas plants, and far higher than natural gas-fired combustion or steam turbines. Because of these advances, wind energy generated enough electricity to power the equivalent of 17.5 million typical American homes in 2015, and has accounted for 77 percent of U.S. growth in zero-carbon generation over the last decade.

Stimm is also incorrect about energy incentives. Wind power’s main incentive is the performance-based Production Tax Credit, which provides a tax credit on electricity generated during the first 10 years of a project. That means if there’s no electricity generation, there’s no tax credit. So his argument that wind turbines are not productive, but simultaneously depend on government incentives, is fundamentally flawed.

All energy sources in the United States receive government incentives. In fact, wind has received less than 3 percent of all federal energy incentives since 1950.

Modern wind technology is a testament to American innovation and manufacturing. Wind’s costs continue to decline while turbines become more efficient, turning more wind into electricity than ever before.

Michael Goggin

Senior Director of Research

American Wind Energy Association

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