Wind Energy

Emerging scientific and policy issues have created uncertainty for the varied interests seeking to increase the use of wind power in the U.S. Few forums existed for these groups to come together to explore the issues objectively and map alternative approaches.

Taking Action

The National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC), a consensus-based collaborative facilitated and staffed by RESOLVE, provides a forum for diverse stakeholders to identify and discuss issues critical to expanding the use of wind power in the U.S. NWCC conducts broad-based, objective research and policy analysis and disseminates its findings widely. Since its formation in 1994, NWCC has held dozens of workshops and generated more than 30 documents providing guidance useful to wind power developers, legislators, regulators, advocates, equipment makers, utilities, associations and others.

Issues

As the U.S. population grows, so do household and commercial demands for electricity produced from both traditional and renewable sources. Wind energy is now providing one of the most commercially competitive sources of renewable energy. Nationwide, wind power has begun to make a significant contribution to electricity production. Companies such as GE Wind, BP Amoco, Shell and Florida Power and Light are all investing in wind technology. However, like other energy resources, wind power is not exempt from concerns that can be significant sources of conflict, including siting, environmental impacts, transmission, financing, regulation and market mechanisms.

Participants

  • Alliance of Energy Suppliers
  • American Electric Power
  • American Wind Energy Association
  • Atlantic Renewable Energy Corporation
  • Bonneville Power Administration
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • California Energy Commission
  • Center for Resource Solutions
  • City of Lake Benton, Lincoln County, MN
  • Community Energy, Inc.
  • CSG Services, Inc.
  • EAPC Architects Engineers
  • Ed Holt & Associates, Inc.
  • Electric Power Research Institute
  • Emissions Marketing Association
  • Energy and Environmental Research Center
  • Environmental and Energy Study Institute
  • FPL Energy, Inc.
  • Green Mountain Energy, Co.
  • GE Wind Power
  • Inter-Tribal Council on Utility Policy
  • Iowa Utilities Board
  • Kansas State Representative
  • Kansas Corporation Commission
  • Land & Water Fund of the Rockies
  • Lincoln County Enterprise Development Corporation
  • Massachusetts Technology Collaborative
  • Minnesota Environmental Quality Board
  • Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
  • National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
  • National Association of State Energy Officials
  • National Conference of State Legislatures
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • NE Public Power District
  • NEG Micon USA, Inc.
  • North Dakota Office of Community Assistance
  • North Dakota Resource Council
  • North Dakota State Representative
  • One World Energy
  • PacifiCorp
  • Powair, The Wakan Way
  • PPM Energy, Inc.
  • Renewable Energy Consulting Services, Inc.
  • South Dakota Governor’s Office
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • U.S. Department of Energy, Wind Energy Program
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Utility Wind Interest Group, Inc.
  • Vermont Environmental Research Associates, Inc.
  • Vestas — American Wind Technology, Inc.
  • Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission
  • Western Resources
  • Wind Management, LLC
  • Wind on the Wires
  • Windpower, Inc.
  • Windustry Project
  • Wyoming Business Council, Energy Office
  • Xcel Energy

Sectors:

  • Turbine Manufacturers
  • Energy Generators
  • Environmental Organizations
  • Green Power Marketers
  • Regulatory Agencies
  • Economic Development Organizations
  • Federal Agencies
  • State Agencies/Officials
  • Tribal Governments
  • State Legislatures
  • Wind Industry

Project Lead:
RESOLVE

Process

The National Wind Coordinating Collaborative, a consensus-based collaborative, was formed in 1994. Supported under contract from the U.S. Department of Energy and served by RESOLVE’s facilitation, management, and program integration services, the NWCC identifies issues that affect the greater use of wind power, establishes dialogue among key stakeholders, and catalyzes appropriate activities to support the development of an environmentally, economically and politically sustainable commercial market for wind power.

This collaborative model has been successful for a decade because it offers a legitimate forum in which different scientific, technical, and policy issues are raised, collaborative research is conducted and credible reports are developed by consensus.

Results

The NWCC has addressed issues critical to the growth of windpower in the U.S., providing forums for dialogue and generating more than 30 documents including educational materials, principles for use by decision makers and resource documents addressing permitting wind projects, economic impacts of wind development on communities in the US and market mechanisms such as green markets and exchange of pollution credits. Two examples are:

Avian Wind Interaction. In an area that has been charged with emotion, the NWCC is widely recognized for raising the level of the debate in the U.S. on avian mortality issues related to windpower. The Committee held a series of workshops and dialogues with stakeholders and produced written proceedings that provide a scientific basis for understanding avian-wind interactions. The information shared at each workshop has helped inform stakeholders about actual or potential impacts, has provided guidance for further research, and has produced information that contributes to the permitting and development of wind power sites in ways that minimize significant impacts to birds. Capturing this learning, NWCC produced several consensus documents. One, a methods and metrics document, provides a standard set of questions and methods to address them. A fact sheet summarizes what is known about avian issues and the remaining questions that could be controversial if not adequately addressed.

Development of Transmission Guidelines: To address growing concerns about access for wind to the nation’s electricity grid, the NWCC has sustained involvement in the transmission planning arena. The Committee has produced a set of principles regarding the development of Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) throughout the nation. These principles have influenced thought about transmission planning at the highest regulatory levels, and have been reflected in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Standard Market Design Proposal. The NWCC has also had a significant impact on the inclusion of wind in the transmission-planning activities of the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO).

National Wind Coordinating Collaborative Timeline:

1994 National Wind Coordinating Collaborative formed
1994-1996 Phase I-III: Internal Education
Issue education and formulation: state and federal policy, avian, siting, resource assessment and transmission
1994-2000 Four avian peer review research meetings with published proceedings
1996-1998 Phase IV: Internal and External Education
Issue education and formulation: State and Federal policy, Avian, Siting, Transmission, and a new issue, emerging markets. Outreach and Education on lessons learned focus on local stakeholder forums, workshops, “magic moments” and website development
1999-present Phase V: Issues Based objectives with internal and external education continuing
Issues: Wildlife, Credit Trading, Economic Development, Siting and Transmission and addition of offshore wind development

Scientific/Technical Obstacles and Actions

Obstacle:
Insufficient information on uniqueness of avian issues at each wind power site
Action:
Organization of a facilitated public dialogue among researchers; design of standard research protocol, sharing and publishing of findings
Obstacle:
Emerging issues, e.g. credit trading economic impacts, needed timely research and outreach
Action:
Joint development of questions to be researched, methodology, selection of researchers, publication of findings
Obstacle:
Lack of experience about how to integrate intermittent renewable technologies into power grid
Action:
Development of case studies, lessons learned and consensus principles; review of principles by recognized experts