On January 16, 2009, an ambitious and historic goal for the Commonwealth was announced - the installation of 2,000 megawatts of wind energy by the year 2020. This commitment will transform Massachusetts from a place ostensibly committed to renewable energy but where, historically, it has been difficult to develop wind projects to a hub for a new global clean energy industry.

Installed wind capacity in the Commonwealth has more than doubled since 2007. The Commonwealth currently has 16 wind turbines and 9 MW of wind energy installed, with hundreds of projects and megawatts in development. Massachusetts is on pace to have over 20 MW installed by the fall of 2010, which would be a more than fivefold increase in the amount of wind energy installed since 2007. Massachusetts has approved all necessary state permits for the Cape Wind project, which would be the nation's first offshore wind farm, and will host the National Wind Technology Testing Center in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, providing the nation's only facility where the next generation of large-scale (90 meters and more) turbine blades can be assessed.

An ambitious wind energy agenda, on land and offshore, is vital to meeting the Commonwealth's goals for a clean environment and a robust economy. Our transportation and electricity systems rely on burning fossil fuels like gasoline, oil, coal, and natural gas. Most fossil fuels are imported, rely on large amounts of natural resources for their extraction, significantly alter landscapes (e.g. mountain top removal), release toxic emissions into the atmosphere (e.g. mercury, sulfur), and are at risk of running out. The combustion of these fuels generates environmental pollution as well as emissions of carbon dioxide, which contribute to climate change. Coastal flooding, drought, water shortages, more severe storms, and many other serious problems threaten human communities, in New England and around the world, if climate change continues unabated.

Wind energy is fueled by an infinitely renewable resource - moving air. It can be generated domestically, contributes to our energy security, creates economic development, and, most importantly, does not release any carbon dioxide or other emissions.

Wind turbines are springing up throughout the Bay State - from Jiminy Peak and Williams Stone Co. in the Berkshires and Holy Name Catholic School and Nature's Classroom in central Massachusetts, to Medford's McGlynn elementary school and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy on Cape Cod. Most of these projects have been developed by communities, schools, businesses, and non-profit organizations seeking ways to provide for their energy needs in less environmentally damaging ways. While on-site installations of wind energy can meet local needs, commercial scale projects, such as the 15MW Berkshire Wind, will provide abundant renewable electricity to the grid, for all customers to use.

These projects are also contributing to the burgeoning clean energy industry in Massachusetts, an industry that is creating new jobs, reducing our environmental impact, and decreasing our dependence on imported sources of energy. The Commonwealth has developed policies and initiatives to develop our wind energy potential. But as wind power becomes a reality, questions arise among the public.

Read our answers in response to a list of frequently asked questions.

This information is provided by the Department of Energy Resources.