U.S. Wind Energy Industry Welcomes Second Round of Grants

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) welcomed announcement from the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Energy of the second round of renewable energy grants (in lieu of tax credits) from the Obama Administration under a program enacted by Congress in the economic recovery package earlier this year. The announcement included grants of $550 million total, with $464 million going to five wind projects.

“We continue to see business activity picking up within the wind industry, with turbine and parts orders being sent all the way up the value chain,” commented AWEA Senior Vice President for Public Policy Rob Gramlich, adding, “The support provided by Congress and the Administration is visibly helping our industry recover from the economic meltdown. We especially appreciate the efficiency that the Departments of the Treasury and Energy have demonstrated in getting these urgently needed funds out the door.”

The grants are designed to temporarily replace the production tax credit (PTC) that has been a major factor in the continued growth in wind and other renewable energy projects. The recession and the freeze in the credit markets that began late last year rendered the PTC much less useful as an investment incentive.

The U.S. wind industry accounted for 42 percent of new electricity generation installed nationwide in 2008, and created 35,000 jobs that year, boosting the number of people employed in wind power to 85,000. Figures for 2009 have suggested a slowdown in new wind projects due to economic conditions. In addition to the grants, AWEA has been advocating for a strong national renewable electricity standard (RES) as a way to send a clear signal to financial markets about the U.S. commitment to renewable energy.