Wind power: AWEA annual market report underscores need for PTC extension

American Wind Energy Association released its 2011 Annual Market Report yesterday, portraying an industry that continued last year to achieve strong double-digit growth, but faces a damaging period of uncertainty going forward because of the impending expiration of its primary incentive, the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).

American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode noted the wind power industry’s strong track record during the past five years, in which the industry has enjoyed a stable policy environment, commenting, “American wind energy is creating American jobs and affordable electricity all across the country. 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."

She added, “In hard economic times we’re creating jobs and delivering clean, affordable electricity, 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 … "

The industry’s numbers are definitely impressive. Quoting from AWEA’s news release on the report:

"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 …

"South Dakota and Iowa led 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 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’s position at the top of the list for under-construction wind farm projects is setting the stage for a very strong 2012.

"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 turbines 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."

The release cited a recent report from Navigant Consulting, which found that if Congress allows the PTC 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. Job losses, Navigant said, will begin now and accelerate with each month the PTC nears the expiration deadline. By contrast, 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.

(For more information on acquiring the annual report through the AWEA Wind Market Analysis Suite, go here. Media should contact Michael Lock,, (202) 261-7811. AWEA member companies can access a members-only version of the report by logging on to the member center at

A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 90 cosponsors, including 20 Republicans, while a Senate bill to extend it was introduced 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, and the Western Governors’ Association. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Governors Association, and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S. A PTC extension has been endorsed by a number of newspapers across the country, including the Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, the Denver Post, and the Daily Oklahoman.

Tom Gray,