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Senators push for more distributed wind power funding

A bipartisan group of senators is asking the Energy Department to allocate more funding for small wind energy applications.

The senators, led by Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenHarrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans The Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots MORE (D-Minn.) told the Energy Department to dedicate more of its funds through its renewable energy technology program to distributed wind power, in which turbines are located near power users and not in large farms.

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“We believe distributed wind power systems deserve sustained, and increased support,” the senators wrote.

“Distributed wind power systems, spanning a wide variety of applications across communities, businesses, and farms and ranches nationwide, clearly have the potential to contribute many gigawatts of electricity similar to other renewable technologies,” they said.

Distributed wind energy has about 842 megawatts of capacity as of last year, about 1.3 percent of the total wind energy capacity in the United States, according to the Energy Department.

In its most recent market report about distributed wind, the Energy Department said one of the top problems with such installations is the quality of the turbines, which often are untested and come with unverified performance claims.

The department has therefore focused resources on a certification program for turbines and on encouraging homeowners, business and others to use it.

In their letter, the senators, all of whom are Democrats except Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Overnight Health Care: Biden unveils COVID-19 relief plan | Post-holiday surge hits new deadly records | Senate report faults 'broken' system for insulin price hikes MORE (R-Iowa), said the distributed wind sector is “at the threshold of rapid commercialization.”

“Increased DOE investments in such areas as cost-shared technology development and performance verification, permitting process improvements, interconnection processes, and financing options can lead to rapid acceleration in the deployment of distributed wind systems,” they wrote.