Browse Topics

Services

Programs

The Power of the Wind
by NPR's Howard Berkes

Links & Resources
sunrise over turbines Sunrise at the Southwest Mesa Wind Project near McCamey, Texas.
(Photo courtesy FPL Energy)


Environmentalists have long considered wind a clean source of energy and a promising alternative to burning fossil fuels. But producing electricity from wind was expensive, costing 10 times the price of natural gas. Only eight years ago, wind energy was dismissed as an economic failure. NPR's Howard Berkes exlores the rush to harness energy from wind during a visit to one of the racing to harness wind power in Texas windiest regions of Texas, where hundreds of wind turbines are going up on every available mesa. Listen to his report on All Things Considered.

These days, a federal tax credit, regulatory incentives in some states, rising prices of competing sources of power, and improvements in technology, have made the cost of harnessing wind more competitive.
Reporter Howard Berkes (R) atop a wind turbine Reporter Howard Berkes (R) interviews Bob Morrison, Vice President for Wind Development, FPL Energy while perched atop a 15-story high wind turbine on Southwest Mesa just outside McCamey, Texas.
(Photo courtesy FPL Energy)
Some of the nation's largest utilities are investing billions of dollars in massive wind farms in every region of the country. Wind advocates are ecstatic that wind is finally getting its due. But critics worry about the unreliability of wind, the industry's dependence on subsidies and favorable regulation, some environmental costs and the difficulty in getting wind-generated power to the homes and businesses that might use it.

Wind Energy Capital

The Texas legislature has declared the oil patch town of McCamey the Wind Energy Capital of Texas.
mural of  McCamey A mural on an empty building in McCamey depicts the new
"Wind Energy Capital" during its oilfield boom.
(Photo courtesy McCamey News)
McCamey was born in 1926, after oil literally gushed from the ground out of one of the most productive oilfields ever discovered.

The town suffered as oil declined. Now, wind turbines dot mesas all around McCamey. They're generating power and profits for energy companies and lucrative royalties for landowners. But they're not enriching McCamey, as NPR's interview with McCamey, Texas mayor Sherry PhillipsHoward Berkes discovered during a tour of the town with McCamey mayor Sherry Phillips. Listen to Berkes' report on All Things Considered.

Links & Resources

FPL Energy, a division of Florida Power and Light with wind energy projects nationwide www.fplenergy.com

American Wind Energy Association: A private group promoting wind power. www.awea.org

National Wind Technology Center: A US Department of Energy agency researching, developing and testing wind technology. www.nrel.gov/wind

US Department of Energy Wind Energy Program. www.eren.doe.gov/wind/