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What the Elections Mean for Wind Power in the US

According to Denise Bode, President and Elizabeth Salerno, Director Industry Data & Analysis at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the new congressional outlook is in fact quite favorable for the wind industry overall and if the correct policies are put in place -- and both believe they will be – the wind industry will charge out of the gate as it has many times in the past.

Denise Bode pointed out that all 50 states in the U.S. exhibit each year at the wind industry’s largest gathering of professionals, Windpower.  She said that all the states exhibit in order to try to attract manufactures to set up facilities in their states.   Many of the incoming congressional freshman, she pointed out, who have been working in their states may be familiar with the impact that wind energy has had on jobs in the U.S.

Bode pointed out -- multiple times -- that wind power manufacturing is the fastest growing manufacturing sector in the U.S.

On the flip side, Elizabeth Salerno went over the most recent AWEA quarterly report, which shows that wind experienced the slowest growth since 2007 in Q3 2010, installing just 395 MW of capacity.  She said year over year, industry installations are down 72% in 2010 as compared to 2009.  Right now the U.S. is installing about ½ as much wind power as is Europe and about 1/3 as much as China. 

Salerno did say that historically wind has had a very strong 4th quarter and 2010 will be no exception.  She said that based on the 6300 MW of wind power that is currently under construction, AWEA expects the year to end with over 5000 MW installed.  She did concede that to accomplish 5000 MW in 2010 would mean the 4th quarter was incredibly active so it will be important to stay tuned to wind installation announcements to make sure that those installations really do take place. 

That said, it’s likely that there will be a big push to start installations in the last quarter of 2010 so that developers can take advantage of the 1603 Treasury cash grant in lieu of tax credit program, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

What Policies Does AWEA Want?

In terms of bringing the wind industry out of the rut it appears to be in, Bode and Salerno highlighted two key policies that they feel are crucial to jump start the industry again.  The first is the extension of the start date of the 1603 treasury grant program.  As it stands now, projects must begin construction before the end of 2010 in order to take the grant in lieu of tax credit.  Bode said that if the start date was pushed back to 2011 or even 2012, you would see more wind industry activity.

In addition to that extension, AWEA believes that a national renewable electricity standard will send a clear signal to the industry that “America is open for business.”

When asked about the new congressional makeup, Bode pointed out again that these policies, unlike cap and trade, enjoy bi-partisan support.  She said that these policies create jobs and if that if the message that American people were sending by electing more Republications to the house is that they want more jobs then these are the policies that have been proven to do that.

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