Why Incentives and Policy?
Federal and state policies play an important role in encouraging wind energy development by leveling the playing field compared to other energy sources. Many of the substantial benefits of wind power as a domestic, zero-emission part of the energy portfolio — sustainability, displacement of pollutant emissions from other power sources, fuel diversity, price stabilization, keeping a substantial portion of energy expenditures in the local economy — are shared by society as a whole and cannot be readily captured by wind generators directly in the price they charge for their output. In addition, while wind power receives some policy support, the level of federal incentives for wind represents less than 1% of the subsidies and tax breaks given to the fossil fuels and nuclear industries (source: "Wind Power An Increasingly Competitive Source of New Generation." Wind Energy Weekly #1130.).
As wind technology makes its first inroads in New England, there are other benefits of policy incentives. Accelerating wind power supply and demand fosters the experience necessary for continued technological improvement, ultimately driving down costs to a point at which wind power can compete effectively. Getting wind facilities into the mix increases familiarity with wind technology on the part of host communities, grid operators, electricity suppliers, as well as project operations and maintenance personnel.
Which Policies and Incentives Support Wind in New England?
Local, state, and federal governments have implemented a range of policy initiatives designed to support wind power. In New England, these initiatives, incentives, grants, and other programs fall primarily under the following categories:
Federal, state, and local policies also pertain to the siting of wind power generation facilities. For more information on siting-related policy, see the Siting Considerations page.