Thursday, September 4, 2008

Does Benton County Blow?

Tradewind Energy has asked the Benton County Planning Board's Technical Advisory Committee to approve plans for a 195-foot-tall meteorological tower to measure the temperature and speed of wind in northwest Benton County. Tradewnd hopes to determine if the area has the 14 miles per hour wind that would make wind turbine power energy profitable. If the project is feasible, turbines could begin being built in three years, said Aaron Weigel, development manager for the company. "This is the best wind Arkansas has, so Benton County could see a lot of development if Benton County is as progressive about renewable energy as they say," Weigel added. He estimated the cost of the total project would be an investment of $300 million to $500 million. Sounds like something Fayetteville should have been pursuing.

The American Wind Energy Association announced this week that the nation’s wind industry has raced past the 20,000-megawatt installed capacity milestone, achieving in two years what had previously taken more than two decades (the 10,000-MW mark was reached in 2006). Wind now provides 20,152 MW of electricity generating capacity in the U.S., producing enough electricity to serve 5.3 million American homes or power a fleet of more than 1 million plug-in hybrid vehicles. This is way better than that damn coal plant proposed for Hempstead County that will be sending electricity to Texas and toxic fumes to Arkansas.

Congressman John Boozman (R-Pinnacle Gated Community) and his colleagues left Washington for the August recess without passing an extension of the renewable energy production tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of the year. There will be only three weeks in September to pass this legislation before Congress takes another vacation to campaign for reelection. Boozman needs to hear from citizens now about the urgency of this extension, because he voted against the renewable energy act and is a big supporter of coal power plants and the oil industry.

Good-paying green American jobs in the clean energy industries are at stake. A recent study by Navigant Consulting shows that 116,000 jobs and more than $19 billion in investment in the wind and solar industries are at risk if the renewable energy tax credits are not extended. To maintain existing jobs and to continue growing thousands of new jobs, Congress must act in September to extend the production tax credits. Do whatever you can to get Boozman to do the right thing this time, or send him packing in November.

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