Wind power: Chicago feels the ?Power of Wind?

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) kicked off its first-ever Midwest Regional Wind Energy Summit in Chicago, a national center for wind power headquarters operations and manufacturing facilities. Chicago is home to 13 major wind turbines companies including Acciona, E.ON, Invenergy and Nordex. Meanwhile, wind manufacturing is powering as many as 10,000 Illinois jobs at almost 30different Illinois factories including companies like Winergy Drive Systems and NTN Bearing.

Over the next two days, more than 450 attendees will be a part of this event at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park to hear about issues that are impacting the Midwest regional wind industry the most. Topics to be covered include local market drivers, siting issues, transmission and community relations.

In particular, there will be discussions of:

· Efforts to solve bottlenecks and expand electric power transmission lines across the Midwest region to assure electric consumers can benefit from the region’s competitively priced wind power

· Initiatives to expand the state renewable portfolio standard in Michigan, and clarify what forms of energy are included in such RPS’s in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio

· And, work in Illinois to reform the state procurement process and promote long-term power purchase agreements for wind.

“It is no accident that we are holding our first ever Regional Summit here in Chicago, the Windy City, a national center for the wind industry,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “Wind power and the federal Production Tax Credit for wind are driving a midwestern manufacturing success story. That is why extending this one crucial tax credit for wind power production is our top national policy objective. And why we are leaving no stone unturned in our drive to get the PTC extended now, in the first quarter, before it is too late for tens of thousands of good midwestern jobs.”

The Midwest wind power market continues to be a vital center for the U.S. wind power industry. The Midwest was home to almost a third of all new American wind megawatts installed last year. Meanwhile, the Illinois wind market is particularly strong. The Land of Lincoln was #2 for wind farm installations in the last year and in the top five for overall wind power in the U.S.

But with the PTC expiration looming at year-end, the stakes for Illinois, the Midwest and the nation could not be clearer. Economic studies have shown that Congressional inaction on the PTC will kill 37,000 American jobs, shutter plants and cancel billions of dollars in private investment. With PTC uncertainty, layoffs have already begun and further job losses and even plant closings will accelerate with each month we near expiration in December.

This is the first of three regional summits AWEA will hold this year, including events for New England in Portland, Maine September 5-6 and for the Southwest in Houston December 5-6.

AWEA will also hold its major annual conference and exhibition, WINDPOWER 2012, in Atlanta on June 3-6. This event will return to Chicago next year May 5-8, 2013.