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Wind power gets a boost

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2009 was a bumper year for new windmills. But as Mark Brush reports, if it weren't for government money, it might have been a bad year.

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Companies normally have to borrow money from banks or investors to build big wind projects. And money was tight last year.

But the government stepped in with Recovery Act spending. It led to enough new wind turbines to power about two and a half million homes.

Even with government spending, experts say there's still a lot of uncertainty in the wind business. The wind industry says the federal government should set mandatory goals for renewable energy. That way utilities will know what to expect over the long term.

Denise Bode is the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association.

"That kind of assurance sends a signal to a utility that they need to diversify their portfolio. That it's in the public interest. And that gives them the support they need to go and make 20 and 30 year decisions. Right now, most utilities are making very short term decisions."

A lot of the growth that happened last year happened in states that required a certain percentage of their power come from renewable energy.

For The Environment Report, I'm Mark Brush.

Copyright 2010. The Regents of the University Of Michigan. Used with permission.

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