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Meanwhile, Wind Industry Sees Big Gains – Will it Last?

As the controversies surrounding the solar industry heat up, the wind industry is keeping its cool as it bounces back from a rocky 2010. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Q3 report, the wind industry had more than 1,200 MW installed in the third quarter, and more than 8,400 MW under construction – the most in any quarter since 2008.

These gains have been aided by a stable production tax credit (PTC) that has attracted more than $20 billion per year in private investment and utilities jumping in on favorable rates. “This is what a successful business looks like with stable tax policy. Utilities are locking in a great deal for their electric customers while it’s available. We’re keeping rates down all across the U.S., even in the heart of the South,” said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA. 

Juhl Wind, specializing in community wind projects, is a prime example of wind success. It recently released its Q3 report, announcing a 245% revenue increase from 2010, and more than $6 million in cash. With these numbers, Dan Juhl, CEO of Juhl Wind, is confident that his company has created a stable base for the future. “Our performance in the face of such a difficult environment speaks for itself and we are confident that these results create a very strong base for our future growth,” said Juhl. 

Though costs have dropped rapidly and a new Bloomberg report speculates that wind will be competitive with natural gas by 2016, the PTC is set to expire in 2012, leaving many questioning the future of the industry. Will it continue to grow, reduce costs and improve technology or will it see a repeat of 2010, when installations dropped almost 50 percent over 2009?

“A lot of people will be surprised by how inexpensive wind energy rates are now, because it’s happened so fast,” said Bode. “We could lose all these consumer benefits and a brand new, growing manufacturing sector if Congress allows the production tax credit to expire.”

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