About the Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach Initiative
This initiative is focused at advancing the appropriate deployment of wind energy systems while educating communities about the potential impacts of wind development, through supporting projects and activities:
- Delivering unbiased, relevant, and actionable information to policy and permitting processes,
- Expanding or preserving access to quality wind resources,
- Making decisions on wind deployment more certain and predictable for all stakeholders by reducing uncertainty around wind deployment related issues,
- Developing and providing tools to help communities understand the impact and benefits of potential wind development, and
- Supporting the development of a national wind workforce though the analysis of current and future workforce needs, educational programs, and ongoing training opportunities.
These activities will help to achieve national-level objectives, such as the Obama Administration's recent commitment to double renewable electricity generation from sources such as wind power by 2020, while supporting the appropriate deployment of wind energy technology, leading to expanded regional economic development, enhance our power generation options, protect the local environment, and increase our energy and national security.
Wind has been one of the fastest growing sources of electricity generation in the United States for the past decade; however it is a relatively new technology which provides only a small portion of the nation's energy needs. With huge untapped wind energy resources throughout the country and very strong interests for cleaner energy sources with longer term price certainty, the United States is moving forward quickly into the 21st century with aggressive deployment of wind technology.
No energy development however comes without impacts and conflict around competing uses or visions for areas where wind development is viable. As the installed capacity of wind technology increases, low-conflict, high-resource sites are increasingly rare and developers are considering areas closer to higher populations, wildlife, and human use conflicts, with lower wind resources and difficult access to transmission. Moreover, technology improvements have opened up areas where commercial development was previously impossible. Developing in these new markets or areas with higher potential for conflict require expanded stakeholder deliberations around permitting and other project approvals which may be colored by competing claims about the costs and benefits of projects. Sorting though these differing viewpoints and claims can be difficult for communities and decision-makers in the absence of fact-based, unbiased information.
This initiative will further expedite the movement of wind technology into the mainstream of the U.S. electric sector, establish new sources of income for American farmers, Native Americans, and other rural landowners, create new jobs, improve environmental quality, stabilize energy prices, and meet the growing demand for clean sources of electricity.
Started in 1999 under the name of Wind Powering America and largely through the implementation of state-based Wind Working Groups in states with nascent wind development, this activity provided communities with technical assistance that has been demonstrably effective in facilitating the level of development seen today (Navigant 2013). The original focus of the initiative was to introduce a technology that had become mainstream in other parts of the world to an American energy market that had little experience with wind development. Although the initiative has shifted since its inception, the mission to inject fact-based information into wind deployment discussions was seen as a large enough shift to warrant a change in the initiative's name.
The Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach initiative presents awards to public-owned utilities and cooperatives for their leadership in promoting wind energy development. The initiative also presents awards for the first utility-scale wind projects in a state and to outstanding partners and advocates.
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