Washington, D.C. – The wind-power industry is looking for another jolt out of the government to keep growing.
For now, the focus is on persuading the lame-duck Congress to extend a subsidy that was created by the 2009 stimulus bill and is set to expire Dec. 31.
Beyond that, the industry is looking to the next Congress to pass a mandate for renewable electricity, which developers say would guarantee a growing market for wind power and encourage investment in manufacturing turbines, as well as building wind farms.
Mandates will be a tough sell with Republicans, who are taking control of the House and cutting the Democrats’ majority in the Senate. But one idea seen as a possible compromise is a broader “clean energy” or “diverse energy” mandate that could include nuclear energy, advanced coal technology and possibly even some incentives for natural gas.
Although energy policy is unlikely to be a priority for the Republicans, a power mandate that goes beyond wind and solar could appeal to Republicans because it’s more of an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy development, said Jonathan Weisgall, a lobbyist for MidAmerican Energy Holdings.
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., proposed a “diverse energy” mandate this year that would require utilities to get 20 percent of their power from lower carbon sources, including nuclear and hydropower, by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030.