Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wind farms - Did the North Country miss its "wind"ow of opportunity?

The combination of falling energy prices and the economic crisis has sent shivers through the Wind Industry.

Wind farms lying fallow in hard times: Recession, oil prices undercutting costly green energy generators

Jan. 24--To state officials and proponents of "green energy," Thursday's ceremony celebrating New England's newest wind farm was a relatively small yet symbolic step toward greater energy independence in Maine.

But with a construction price tag topping $60 million, First Wind's Stetson Mountain wind farm also highlights the fact that pollution-free energy doesn't come cheap.

Between 2006 and 2008, generation of electricity from wind in the United States more than doubled to 21,000 megawatts, according to the American Wind Energy Association. But today wind-power projects nationwide are being delayed or put on the backburner due to economic turmoil.

So will the tightening financial market combined with a return -- albeit likely a temporary one -- to inexpensive oil undercut Maine's burgeoning wind-energy industry just as it is poised to take off?

Industry representatives and economic analysts in Maine acknowledge that the recession is already having some impacts on projects in the region.

First Wind, the operator of both the Stetson Mountain and Mars Hill wind-energy facilities, has shelved plans for a wind farm on Grand Manan Island near the Maine-Canadian border as well as one in New York state."

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