The subsidies are ending, but the industry is set to stand on its own
A coming-of-age moment is bearing down on the U.S. wind power industry, and proponents say it’s ready—well, mostly ready.
For a quarter-century, the industry has been supported by federal tax credits that helped it attract $250 billion in investments and create 100,000 jobs, according to the American Wind Energy Association. That support ends next year, but analysts and executives say the credits have done what they were supposed to do: make the industry competitive.
Established supply chains, taller towers, bigger rotor blades, and the use of artificial intelligence to boost efficiency have made wind power cheaper than coal and on a par with natural gas. And soon enough, offshore wind farms could expand the renewable energy source’s influence beyond rural states such as Texas and Kansas to the high-population corridors along the East and West coasts. “Wind has matured now,” says Chuck Grassley, the Republican senator from Iowa who first championed the tax credits in 1992. “It’s ready to compete.”
Since North America’s first offshore wind farm opened off Rhode Island in late 2016, the industry has secured a dozen offshore leases from the federal government to build similar operations elsewhere. Dominion Energy Inc. got in under the federal tax credit deadline with its plan to build a pilot wind farm off the coast of Virginia Beach by late 2020. On Nov. 2, state regulators approved the plan for a two-turbine farm expected to cost $300 million and generate 12 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 3,000 homes.
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