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State ?falling behind' in wind jobs

State ‘falling behind’ in wind jobsProf says Wyoming should promote alternative energy(Via Billings Gazette)Wyoming has lost jobs and other opportunities as it went from fifth to 11th

in wind power generation in recent years, and the ability to move

electricity to market has little to do with it, a University of Wyoming

transmission expert said Friday."Wyoming is falling behind," said Dr. Sadrul Ula, professor of electrical

and computer engineering, and director of the UW Utility Consortium."Other states are doing much better," said Ula, who was among more than 600

people who attended and participated in the first Wyoming Wind Symposium on

Thursday and Friday at UW.Unlike most of its neighbors, Wyoming has not adopted Renewable Portfolio

Standards to set goals for alternative energy use, he said.For the states that have adopted them, Renewable Portfolio Standards

usually start with having somewhere around 5 percent of their energy used

in the state generated by wind, solar or similar sources that aren't like

coal and gas, which cannot be replaced, he said. Over time, those states

raise that goal to 15 percent or 20 percent, he said.States that have adopted these standards, such as Texas and Colorado, have

surpassed Wyoming's wind generation despite this state's massive potential,

Ula said.The standards also have reaped economic benefits for those states, he said.Speakers at the symposium said Wyoming has wind energy opportunities

because upward of 20 percent of the cost to build a wind farm is consumed

with the high cost of shipping blades, towers and nacelles. Turbine

manufacturers could save money by establishing plants in Wyoming near

prospective wind projects, they said.But Ula doesn't think it's coincidental that Denmark-based Vestas - a world

leader in wind energy - has located a turbine manufacturing facility in

Windsor, Colo., and a tower manufacturing facility in Pueblo, Colo., even

though Wyoming has no corporate income tax and Cheyenne has major rail

lines and intersecting interstate highways.Colorado has a Renewable Portfolio Standards and an eye to the future of

wind energy with high-paying, high-quality jobs, he said."We lost a manufacturing opportunity," Ula said.Wyoming's Legislature has rebuffed attempts to establish the standards,

such as when former Rep. Jane Warren, D-Laramie, proposed a bill earlier in

the decade to create a commission to consider renewable energy. That bill

died with only one supporting vote in the energy committee.The establishment of Renewable Portfolio Standards in Wyoming, Ula said,

would mean the traditional fossil fuel power plants would need to cede some

of the transmission capability to wind-generated power.The only time anyone at the symposium broached the subject was when a panel

looking at the long-term prospects for wind energy was asked why Wyoming

did not have Renewable Portfolio Standards.Jerry Vaninetti with Trans-Elect Development Co. LLC admitted that Wyoming

was unusual compared with most surrounding states that have the standards,

but it didn't need them."We're kind of a hole in a doughnut," Vaninetti said.The standards only stimulate wind energy development if a state has a lot

of consumer demand, and Wyoming doesn't fit that because it has few people

and exports nearly all the electricity it generates, he said."I don't think there would be a material difference if it did or didn't

have a Renewable Portfolio Standard," Vaninetti said.Ula agreed with Vaninetti's small-population argument to a point.But Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota have small populations, and they

have Renewable Portfolio Standards, Ula said.In a related matter, he noted many speakers claimed wind energy development

has been constrained because of the lack of major transmission lines.As an expert in electrical transmission, Ula strongly disputed that

contention."'Transmission' is way overblown for wind energy projects," he said.In the past two years, Wyomin