Editorial: The price of independence
The United States is putting big money into wind energy development, and Virginia stands to benefit greatly from this fast-track appropriation toward energy independence.
The Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior announced this week the funding of $50 million for projects supporting wind energy development off the Atlantic Coast, including an area off Virginia’s Capes. "Rapid" is the operative word, as the U.S. tries to spur projects and get them on a fast track.
Costly, to be sure. The construction of any infrastructure is always expensive, although the benefits are calculated to outweigh by far the costs. Think railroads… interstate highways ... power grids. The government has had a hand in building all of these over the centuries. It is stepping up now to meet the new challenges.
If the price of developing this new infrastructure can help make us independent of other nations for our energy supply, the cost will be justified many times over, for important reasons as much political as economic. The environmental benefit, of contributing less carbon dioxide to the air, is just as vital from a standpoint of human health.
Many Americans at the individual level want to get away from fossil fuels, support energy independence, and they hope this goal can be accomplished in a clean, reliable and renewable way. They have investigated what they can do. Some have erected windmills and solar panels. Some have found, and this business is among them, that the cost remains extremely high, hard to justify in a time of deep economic recession even with tax incentives that were offered in 2009 and 2010.
So the news from the federal departments is good. Virginia will have some of the wind turbines off its coast. A prior study found that once it is ashore, the existing grid can carry the new, clean, renewable power with a minimum of expenditure.
Finally, good news and a major step toward energy independence. It will pay off with dividends to the national economy and the global environment.