Wind power bringing innovation, manufacturing back to American industry

The wind farm market report illustrates how wind power has created a positive feedback loop where market certainty allows for states to generate affordable electricity from wind at record levels, which leads to one of America’s fastest growing sources of Made-in-the-USA manufacturing jobs, which then allows the cost of wind to drop even further.

South Dakota and Iowa lead a record five states that received more than 10 percent of their electricity from wind farm in 2011. Seven states have at least 4,000 wind turbines jobs apiece, and the list shows the industry’s geographic reach, stretching from Iowa to Texas to Illinois, Ohio,Colorado, California and Michigan. Meanwhile, Kansas’ position at the top of the list for under construction wind farm projects is setting the stage for a very strong 2012.

“American wind energy is creating American jobs and affordable electricity all across the country,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. We are powering one of the country’s biggest sources of Made-in-the-USA manufacturing jobs and a vital source of economic development despite the down economy.”

In the past five years of bipartisan policy stability, American wind power has:

· Brought in as much as $20 billion annually in private investment to the U.S.

· Created one of the largest providers of new American electric generation with 35% of all new power capacity, right behind natural gas.

· Driven technology advances that have made wind more affordable than ever. A typical wind turbine now generates 30% more electricity – all while driving down costs.

· Created nearly 500 new American manufacturing facilities and employed 75,000 overall, including 30,000 in the manufacturing sector, from coast to coast.

“This shows what wind power is capable of: building new projects, powering local economies and creating jobs,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Traditional tax incentives are working. This tremendous activity is being driven by the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) – which leverages as much as $20 billion a year in private investment and supports tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.”

The U.S. wind farm industry installed 6,816 megawatts (MW) in 2011, 31 percent higher than 2010, for a total of 46,916 MW installed in the U.S. to date. And there are more than 8,300 MW under construction, setting the stage for a strong 2012.

Other highlights of the U.S. Wind Industry 2011 Market Report that AWEA released today include:

Top 10 states for overall wind energy jobs:

1. Iowa: 6,000-7,000

2. Texas: 6-7 K

3. Illinois: 6-7 K

4. Ohio: 5-6 K

5. Colorado: 4-5K

6. California: 4-5K

7. Michigan: 4-5K

8. Pennsylvania: 3-4K

9. Florida: 2-3K

10. Oregon: 2-3K

Top states for wind farm generation as a percentage of their portfolio (Records: five states received more than 10 percent of their electricity from wind turbines in 2011 and 13 received more than 5 percent)

1. South Dakota: 22.3%

2. Iowa: 18.8%

3. North Dakota: 14.7%

4. Minnesota: 12.7%

5. Wyoming: 10.1%

6. Colorado: 9.2%

7. Kansas: 8.3%

8. Oregon: 8.2%

9. Idaho: 8.2%

10. Oklahoma: 7.1%

11. Texas: 6.9% (8.5% on ERCOT)

12. New Mexico: 5.4%

13. Washington: 5.3%

Top ten states for wind farm projects under construction in 2012:

1. Kansas: 1,189 MW

2. Texas: 857 MW

3. California: 847 MW

4. Oregon: 640 MW

5. Illinois: 615 MW

6. Pennsylvania: 520 MW

7. Iowa: 470 MW

8. Oklahoma: 393 MW

9. Michigan: 348 MW

10. Washington: 331 MW

“In hard economic times we’re creating jobs and delivering clean, affordable electricity,” Bode stressed. “But we will lose all these consumer benefits and a brand new, growing manufacturing sector if Congress allows the Production Tax Credit to expire. Businesses need certainty. That is why it is urgent that Congress extend the PTC now, or risk losing a bright new manufacturing sector.”

A recent report by Navigant Consulting finds that if Congress allows the PTC for wind to expire, jobs in the wind industry will be cut in half, meaning a loss of 37,000 American jobs and a one third cut to American wind manufacturing jobs, while private investment in the industry would drop by nearly two thirds. And Navigant found that these job losses will begin now and accelerate with each month the PTC nears the expiration deadline at the end of the year. Meanwhile, extending the PTC will allow the wind industry to grow to almost 100,000 American jobs in just four years and stay on track toward supporting 500,000 American jobs by 2030. The report can be found here.

A House bill seeking to extend the existing Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy (H.R. 3307, the “American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act”) has garnered the support of 90 cosponsors including 20 Republicans. Extension legislation was introduced in the Senate on March 15 by seven Senators including three Republicans.

PTC extension efforts have received the endorsement of a broad, coalition of more than 370 members, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Edison Electric Institute, the Western Governors’ Association, the United Steelworkers and many members of the environmental community. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition comprised of 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S.

The PTC is a tax incentive that helps keep electricity rates low and encourages development of proven clean energy projects. Private investment generated over the last four years of relative PTC stability has been as high as $20 billion a year.

The wind energy PTC will expire in 2012 unless Congress takes action. Failure to extend the PTC would lead to job losses and will put the brakes on the progress America has made to include clean, affordable, homegrown energy as part of the U.S. electricity portfolio.

Facing the threat of the PTC expiring, wind farm project developers have become hesitant to plan future U.S. projects and American manufacturers have seen a marked decrease in orders. The wind industry is facing the recurrence of the boom-bust cycle it saw in previous years when the PTC was allowed to expire. In the years following expiration, installations dropped by between 73 and 93 percent, resulting in major job losses.