Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, refers to the free potential of wind-energy as “the magic of wind” because it can “power a cleaner, stronger, America.” As this year’s presenter for the 18th annual Wege Foundation Speaker Series, Kiernan happily announced that wind-powered energy has increased ten-fold over the past decade
Today 4.4% of the USA’s electricity supplying the equivalent of 15 million homes comes from Mother Nature’s free, clean wind. By 2030, wind power is expected to account for 20% of this nation’s electricity. The state of Michigan is now the 16th biggest provider of wind energy in the country having tripled its capacity in the past two years.
Kiernan called wind energy a “perfect example of economicology,” Peter Wege’s term for finding a balance between the ecology and the economy. The for-profit electric companies using Shelley’s “wild spirit” now employ 80,000 people in 550 plants – 40 in Michigan – across the country. While Europe was the world’s early leader in wind energy, the USA has moved ahead with 900 wind farms now and 100 more under construction.
A wind farm typically consists of 50 turbines that have increased in height since the 1980s from 20 meters to 100 meters, the three spinning blades 100 meters long. At the same time, the per-kilowatt cost of electricity powered by wind has decreased 90% since 2000.
Kiernan, the former President of the National Parks Conservation Association, advocated for federal tax credits that triggered the growth spurt in wind energy. He urged the audience to vote this year for candidates who will support increasing wind energy by renewing tax credits.
In stressing the importance of clean energy, Kiernan told his audience in Aquinas’s PAC that “the future of the planet, life, and wildlife depends on what we do in the next ten years.”