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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Wind energy is cost-effective job creator

The recent letter "The true cost of biofuels" (May 21) misstates the facts on the economics of renewable energy, particularly the wind industry. A wise investment is one that delivers solid growth and is strategically positioned for the future. Wind energy succeeds on both counts.

The American wind industry has experienced 30 percent average annual growth over the past five years, bringing jobs and economic development to our nation's rural areas. That growth has been fueled by private-sector investment: $25 billion flowed into the wind industry last year alone, making wind the No. 1 source of newly installed energy generation for 2012.

As a result, 80,000 Americans are now employed in the industry, and the wind component-manufacturing chain encompasses 550 facilities spread across 44 states. Because of the size and complexity of each wind turbine, these jobs are well-paid and won't be outsourced. Manufacturing-focused states such as Ohio and Michigan have particularly benefited from the wind industry's recent surge, as now nearly 70 percent of the content of each wind turbine is American-made.

The results of our industry's hard work and innovation are now being passed onto consumers, because the price of wind-power purchase agreements continue to drop. In fact, newly installed wind-energy generation is one of the least expensive forms of energy, according to investment-analysis firm Lazard and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Even in states with limited wind resources, such as Arkansas, consumers are saving money as their utilities are purchasing wind power from neighboring states. For example, Oklahoma Gas and Electric estimates that a recently constructed wind project will save Arkansas customers $268 million over just the first five years of operation. That's because once built, wind's "fuel" is free and is not subject to market fluctuations. With long-term, fixed-rate pricing, wind-power purchase agreements continue to be smart hedges in a world with finite fossil-fuel resources and ever-increasing extraction costs.

The facts are clear: American wind power has proven itself as a clean, reliable source of homegrown energy.

PAUL HOLSHOUSER

Finance policy manager, American Wind Energy Association

Washington, D.C.

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