• The OPEC Oil Embargo triggers an energy crisis. Americans experience gas price spikes, long lines at the pump, and renewed interest in producing energy here in the U.S. using sources that will never run out.

  • A handful of pioneering engineers concerned with the environment salvage abandoned 1930s-era 20-kilowatt (KW) wind turbines across the Great Plains, then start their own small businesses selling them.


  • Allen O’Shea shares his vision to bring turbine-tinkerers, innovators and renewable energy advocates together, with a mission to power American communities using the wind. At the time, O’Shea sells solar and wind equipment through Detroit-based Environmental Energies Inc.

  • O’Shea convenes the first AWEA meeting in the basement of a Detroit police station, which offered a free space across from the Environmental Energies store. The meeting convenes right before the huge 1974 World Energy Congress, which brings thousands of energy leaders to Detroit. On Sept. 17, 1974, O’Shea becomes AWEA’s first president of the board and signs AWEA’s charter along with the nascent wind industry’s movers and shakers.

  • Congress creates the first federal wind research and development program. President Gerald Ford signs the Solar Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Act, which provides significant funding for accelerated research in renewable energy. This funding comes through the National Science Foundation’s existing “Research Applied to National Needs” (RANN) program and includes a $24.5 million wind technology program.


  • NASA uses National Science Foundation funding to create a wind turbine industry, granting contracts to manufacturers with the most promising turbine designs. Based on its expertise in aeronautic fuel efficiency and its interest in new energy sources for air and space, NASA commissions large-scale, experimental wind turbines across the late 1970s and early 1980s. These turbines set world records for power output and rotor size, and they pioneer many of the multi-megawatt turbine technologies used today.

  • NASA installs the first large-scale test turbine, the 100 kW MOD-0, at a research center in Sandusky, Ohio. The prototype’s rotor consists of two 125-foot-long blades – over twice the length of the longest helicopter blades at the time. However, the experimental turbine it is not a fully functioning machine.

  • The Energy Research Development Association (ERDA) is created, unifying the federal government's growing energy research efforts into one agency. ERDA later becomes the Department of Energy.

  • AWEA holds its first annual conference at the University of Colorado at Boulder. About 125 people interested in wind power attend the conference. This conference would be named “WINDPOWER®” in the mid-1980s.


  • Using a National Science Foundation grant, the University of Massachusetts builds a 25-kW wind turbine with three 33-foot long blades. It serves as the model for turbines sold by U.S. Windpower, an original AWEA member and the most successful early U.S. turbine manufacturer.


  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is created. President Jimmy Carter signs legislation creating DOE, a federal agency that provides funding for renewable energy programs and a variety of other energy and defense-related activities.


  • AWEA moves to Washington, D.C., and engages in federal policy, with a focus on funding wind energy research.

  • The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) requires utilities to buy electricity generated by renewable resources, including wind. This legislation creates a wholesale U.S. market for wind energy.

  • The Energy Tax Act includes a 15 percent tax credit on investments to wind developers. AWEA, led by its first Executive Director Ben Wolff, advocated for the credit.