Slowing down wind energy development in the Midwest, the two groups said, harms states’ ability to achieve their renewable energy requirements and create green jobs, and renders it virtually impossible to meet the President’s goal of doubling renewable energy in three years.
The proposed change would nearly double the cost for a wind plant to connect to the power system in the Upper Midwest, potentially forcing many wind plant developers to pull the plug on tens of billions of dollars of investment they have planned for the region. Instead of broadly distributing the costs of transmission in a way that matches the broadly distributed benefits of building a stronger grid–such as improved reliability and reduced power prices–the proposal would assign virtually all those costs to the next generator attempting to connect to the grid.
"The proposed policy change is like requiring the next car entering a congested highway to pay the full cost of adding a new lane,” said WOW Director Beth Soholt. "Obviously such a policy is unworkable, which in our case means that wind projects will not be able to connect to the grid."
"At a time when the wind industry is one of the few bright spots of the U.S. economy, having created 35,000 new jobs last year, this policy is saying the Midwest is becoming less friendly for the wind business, and that will clearly have an impact on not only wind development but manufacturing and supply chain jobs throughout the region," said AWEA CEO Denise Bode.
U.S. WIND ENERGY INDUSTRY INSTALLS 1,200 MW IN SECOND QUARTER
The U.S. wind energy industry installed 1,210 megawatts (MW) of new power generating capacity in the second quarter, bringing the total added this year to just over 4,000 MW – an amount larger than the 2,900 MW added in the first six months of 2008, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today in its second quarter (Q2) market report.
While the number of completed wind farm installations was solid, AWEA said it is seeing a reduced number of orders and lower level of activity in manufacturing of wind turbines and their components, a development it termed troubling in view of the fact that the U.S. industry was previously on track for much larger growth and the global wind power industry is continuing to expand.
“The numbers are in, and while they show the industry has been swimming upstream, adding some 4,000 MW over the past six months, the fact is that we could be delivering so much more,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “Our challenge now is to seize the historic opportunity before us to unleash this entrepreneurial force and build up an entire new industry here in the U.S. that will create jobs, avoid carbon, and strengthen our energy security. To achieve that, Congress and the Administration must pass a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) with strong early targets.”
During the second quarter, the U.S. wind energy industry completed a total of 1,210 MW in 10 states, enough to power the equivalent of about 350,000 homes. These new installations nudge total U.S. wind power generating capacity to 29,440 MW, according to the report. The U.S. wind power generating fleet now offsets an average of 54 million tons of carbon annually, reducing carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2% or the equivalent of taking 9 million cars off the road.
The state posting the fastest growth in the 2nd quarter was Missouri, where wind power installations expanded by 90%.
“Missourians know that in order for us to grow our state’s economy and create the jobs of the twenty-first century, we must embrace new technology and advances like the ones presented to us through renewable wind energy,” said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. “So I’m proud that the American Wind Energy Association’s quarterly report shows no state has capitalized on these growth opportunities more aggressively over the last three months than Missouri has. But that isn’t enough. Missouri will continue to look for ways to enhance our energy supply and independence by using common-sense and cost effective expansions of clean, renewable wind power.”
Pennsylvania and South Dakota ranked second and third in terms of growth rate in the second quarter, expanding by 28% and 21% respectively.
Additional report highlights:
* The states that added new wind power generating capacity are:
Texas – 454 MW
Iowa – 160 MW
Missouri – 146 MW
Washington – 129 MW
California – 120 MW
Pennsylvania – 102 MW
South Dakota – 50 MW
Oregon – 45 MW
Minnesota – 2 MW
Wyoming – 2 MW
* Iowa passed the 3,000-MW mark with a cumulative total of 3,043 MW installed and consolidated its position as #2, behind Texas (8,361 MW) and ahead of California (2,787 MW).
* Three wind turbine and turbine component manufacturing facilities were opened, four facilities were expanding, and eight facilities were announced during the past quarter. This brings the total of opened, expanding and announced facilities up to 20 since the beginning of the year. At the same time, many existing supply chain companies have stopped hiring or have furloughed employees due to the slowdown in contracts for wind turbines. Wind turbine component manufacturing investment was one of the bright spots in the economy in 2008, with over 55 facilities added, expanded or announced that year.
“Manufacturing investment is the canary in the mine, and shows that the future of wind power in this country is very bright but still far from certain,” said Bode. “The reality is that if the nation doesn’t have a firm, long-term renewable energy policy in place, large global companies and small businesses alike will hold back on their manufacturing investment decisions or invest overseas, in countries like China that are soaring ahead. The instances where manufacturing investment is moving forward in the U.S. are in states like Kansas that have demonstrated a commitment to renewable energy and passed a renewable electricity standard. This type of commitment now needs to be made at the national level.”