Wind Power Conference Blows Into Chicago - NBC Chicago

Wind Power Conference Blows Into Chicago

Conference includes calls to increase offshore wind energy, improve electrical grid



    A huge conference focusing on renewable energy -- wind, in particular -- takes over Chicago's McCormick Place this week.

    The Windpower 2009 Conference and Exhibition will feature over 15,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibitors. Each year, wind energy professionals gather to learn about the latest industry developments and technologies, review new products and services in the expansive exhibit hall, and network with leading industry decision makers.

    Mayor Richard Daley was among the thousands of people there Tuesday.

    But even though wind power is growing in popularity, some contend that alternative energy projects cost the economy and wind up in the loss of jobs.

    Offshore Wind Energy

    Also in attendence was U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who said the United States can lead the world in offshore wind energy production and should have significant offshore development within four years.

    Salazar told members of the American Wind Energy Association that the Obama administration has cleared up rules for developing offshore wind production.

    He says dozens of applications have been hung up by governmental red tape that now should clear.

    Salazar also told reporters that the Great Lakes have strong offshore wind-power potential.

    Denmark is the world's leader in offshore wind power.

    U.S. Electrical Grid

    The country's top energy regulator says the federal government needs to spend much more money on improving the country's electrical grid.

    The head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission told reporters at the annual American Wind Energy Association convention in Chicago that the several billion dollars in President Obama's stimulus plan is really only seed money.

    Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff also says the federal government needs greater authority to organize transmission projects. Those projects often run into opposition from landowners and even some states.

    The wind power industry wants better transmission lines leading from windy areas such as the upper Midwest to major markets.