A Letter from Patrick Gilman: Wind Powering America Is Now Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach

October 21, 2013

In slightly more than a decade, the wind industry has progressed from a small niche market with installations in just a handful of states to a major economic driver in the power sector, with more than 60 gigawatts of installed capacity and major installations in more than 30 states. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Wind Power Technology Program (now the Wind and Water Power Technologies Office) initiated Wind Powering America, an activity to help expand wind energy deployment in the United States. Thanks to technical assistance provided by the DOE Regional Offices and the national laboratory system and through the implementation of state-based Wind Working Groups in states with nascent wind development, this activity helped America to realize today's level of wind energy installed capacity.

The initiative's original focus 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 continuously evolved to address industry changes, the wind market of even 5 years ago is very different from the market today. As DOE looks at how to best engage in its mandate to invest in research and development efforts and innovative deployment approaches to catalyze the timely and efficient transformation of the nation's energy system, the focus of the initiative has changed from introducing a new technology to injecting accurate, fact-based information into wind deployment discussions. Instead of promoting wind energy use, the initiative is focused on becoming a source of accurate information, helping to simplify the deployment process, articulating the potential impacts and benefits of wind power, and providing improved access to high-quality wind resources through addressing potential issues around competing uses based on informed community dialog.

Although the initiative has been shifting in this direction for several years, its name has remained the same. A name's connotations in the minds of local, state, and national decision makers, utility representatives, and the general public cannot be underestimated. DOE no longer has the role of promoting "Powering America with Wind;" the industry has assumed that role. However, DOE understands the need for an organization to provide information about appropriate wind energy deployment. For this reason, the name of the Wind Powering America initiative will be changed. In the interim, as we move through the rebranding process, we will use the generic name "Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach."

Although the name and approaches of this initiative will change, its goal will continue to be expediting the movement of wind technology into the mainstream of the U.S. electric sector; establishing new sources of income for American farmers, Native Americans, and other rural landowners; creating new jobs; improving environmental quality; stabilizing energy prices; and meeting the growing demand for clean sources of electricity.

Please be patient as we go through this rebranding process, and help us to celebrate the beginning of a new era of DOE's involvement in the wind industry that builds on the huge success of the Wind Powering America initiative.

Patrick Gilman
Wind Energy Deployment Manager, U.S. Department of Energy