March 14,2001

Grassley: Wind Energy is a “Breath of Fresh Air”

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, todayintroduced legislation to promote clean, efficient wind energy.

“The bill is called the BREEZE Act, and I hope it’ll be a breeze to get it passed into law,”Grassley said. “The wind is a clean, abundant natural resource. Harnessing its power makes perfectsense, especially in times of energy shortages and soaring prices. Wind energy is a breath of freshair.”

Grassley’s bill is called the Bipartisan Renewable, Efficient Energy with Zero Effluent(BREEZE) Act. He introduced it with 12 bipartisan co-sponsors. The measure extends theproduction tax credit for energy generated by wind for five years. The current tax credit is set toexpire on Jan. 1, 2002.

Grassley authored the Wind Energy Incentives Act of 1993 to give wind as an alternativeenergy source the ability to compete against traditional, finite energy sources. He believes that aproduction tax credit is critical to the expansion and development of wind energy.

Iowa is a major producer of wind energy, Grassley said. Iowa has four new wind powerprojects ready to go online just this year. These four projects, with the ultimate capacity of morethan 240 megawatts, will join the already existing 20 facilities in Iowa. Even large petroleumproducing states such as Texas are recognizing the growing potential of wind energy. Texas has thethird-largest wind farm in the world and plans to add five new facilities this year, adding to the sevenalready online.

Grassley said experts have established wind energy’s valuable contributions to maintainingcleaner air and a cleaner environment. Every 10,000 megawatts of wind energy produced in theUnited States can reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 33 million metric tons by replacing thecombustion of fossil fuels, Grassley said.

Nationwide, more than 900 megawatts of new wind energy capacity was added just last year,bringing wind energy generating capacity in the United States to more than 2,500 megawatts,Grassley said. The new capacity alone will power the equivalent of more than 240,000 homes.

Equally important, wind energy increases U.S. energy independence, thereby providing theUnited States with insulation from an oil supply dominated by the Middle East, Grassley said.National security is threatened by a heavy reliance on oil from abroad.

Grassley said the price of wind energy has been reduced more than 80 percent in the past twodecades, making it one of the most affordable types of renewable energy. To continue thisinvestment in America’s energy future, Congress must extend the production tax credit, Grassleysaid.

Wind energy also has vast potential to contribute to California’s electricity supply, Grassleysaid. California is suffering because of an energy market with insufficient energy generation andproduction that is overly dependent on natural gas.

Grassley said just in the past few weeks, plans have been unveiled to develop what will bethe world’s two largest wind power plants in the Northwest. One will be installed on the Oregon-Washington boundary, and the other at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nevada Test Site. Together,the two plants will have a capacity of 560 megawatts and will generate enough power annually toserve more than half a million people. In addition, a number of other new projects coming onlinethis year in the West will also bring much-needed additional generating capacity to the region.Wind energy also produces substantial economic benefits, Grassley said. For each windturbine, a farmer or rancher can receive more than $2,000 per year for 20 years in direct leasepayments. Iowa’s major wind farms already pay more than $640,000 per year to land owners. InCalifornia, the development of 1,000 megawatts would mean annual payments of approximately $2million to farm and forest landowners.

“Wind energy is reliable, renewable, inexhaustible, environmentally safe and homegrown,”Grassley said. “It’s so good that we need a lot more of it. I look forward to working toward thesuccess of this bill.”