Welcome to New Orleans, and to some very good years to be in American wind power.
With jobs up 20 percent in a year, there are now more people working in our industry than seats in the Superdome.
American workers, including hundreds here in Louisiana, are transforming the energy sector with our lowest-cost power ever.
New and upgraded transmission lines are bringing wind-generated electrons here to the Southeast, where the Southern Corp. is now both a wind buyer and a developer.
Elected leaders in both parties just voted for continued wind research and development. They know a wind turbine is like a statue of liberty. Our turbines give Americans the power to power ourselves.
The next generation has gotten the message. Increasing numbers of young people are with us on the show floor: Students, competing to design and test turbines. Scholarship winners, bringing more women into our workforce. Emerging leaders in our companies, speaking on panels and helping chart the future.
That future is more secure with a predictable Production Tax Credit, advancing approvals for long-distance power lines, and advances too in how we interact with wildlife and federal agencies. We’re opening new areas to development with technology, which reaches higher winds and makes wind an affordable option in more places.
Major corporate and institutional purchasers have gotten the message too. In the words of Michelle Arenson, co-chair of WINDPOWER 2016, “You can now follow Google maps in your GM truck to Walmart and buy Tide laundry detergent, and all of it will have been wind powered. Now that’s what I call progress.”
Analyses shows we can hit or surpass our goal of an average of eight gigawatts a year of new installations from now through 2020. That is an extraordinary accomplishment for our industry, to be out of the boom-bust cycle and to have a confident five-year outlook.
We intend to keep building our political power so we can sustain our growth into the next decade and keep transforming the U.S. electric sector.
Today we recognize two companies as leaders of this transformation.
Google has become the world’s largest renewable energy buyer, at over 2.2 GW to date. They’ve bought wind power in Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, California, and Kansas, with more to come. Google has earned our annual award for Outstanding Contributions to Wind Energy.
We recognize NextEra Energy with the Outstanding Commercial Achievement Award. NextEra is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from wind and the sun. Their leadership is one reason American wind power is on track to quadruple in the next 15 years.
You’re a reason too, by the work that brought you here to New Orleans where you are helping build our industry. Thank you for coming. I hope your week here is productive and enjoyable. Onward!