The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Winds Steady but Calm for Windpower 2014

The U.S. wind industry has its work cut out for it. That was the message put forth today at the start of Windpower 2014, an annual event taking place in Las Vegas this week. Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) opened the show with a keynote speech that reviewed steps that the industry had taken over the past year in order to reach its goals. In 2013, the industry set goals of doubling the amount of installed wind power capacity by 2020 and increasing it to 20 percent of the U.S. energy mix by 2030. Wind power currently makes up about 4 percent of the U.S. energy mix.

Kiernan explained that there are four pillars the industry works under in order to foster growth: increase demand, cut costs, address implementation issues and educate leaders.  AWEA spearheads all of these pillars but relies on its industry members to move them along. 

Under the “increase demand” pillar, Kiernan said that the wind power industry helped fight off more than 20 attacks on state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in 2013, defeating all of them and in some states, such as in Colorado, even strengthening the RPS.  An RPS legislates the amount of renewable power that a state seeks to have as part of its energy mix by a certain date and many of these were challenged over the past year. 

Also under the increase demand pillar, Kiernan pointed out that more than 72 percent of Americans say they support wind energy and more than 73 percent support continuing tax incentives, according to a recent study by Navigant.  In addition, Kiernan said that utilities are demanding more wind power capacity and he pointed out that more than 60 PPAs were signed over the past year. Kiernan said that Xcel, the number one utility for wind power for the past ten years, just announced plans to add 2 GW of wind capacity to its system. Better still, the utility claims that the new wind power will save consumers more than $1 billion over the life of the systems.

Under the “cut costs” pillar, Kiernan showed a slide demonstrating that turbine efficiencies are going up and costs are going down.  Over the past four years the cost of wind energy has dropped 43 percent. “This shows how affordable wind energy can be,” he said. The industry has done a good job extending the PTC and changing the language in it, which has lead to the “largest construction boom” ever with 90 projects currently under construction in 20 different states, he said.  

Under the implementation pillar, Kiernan said that the wind industry has been working closely with the wildlife industry as part of the American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI) to ensure that wind power is developed responsibly while also protecting eagles and other wildlife.  Advances in safety, said Kiernan, have also been made to protect the health and safety of wind power workers.

On the education pillar, Kiernan threw out an inspirational Abraham Lincoln quote: “’With public sentiment, nothing can fail, without it nothing can succeed,’” he said.  “’Consequently he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions.’” Kiernan said that it remains important the wind power professionals work to help mold public sentiment around wind energy and said that AWEA has been doing that through meetings with legislators over the course of the past year.

Missing from the presentation today was some of the grandiosity that marked Windpower shows in the past.  In 2011, then-AWEA CEO Denise Bode kicked off the show by riding onto the stage on a giant white Harley-Davidson. Then again, the U.S. wind industry was in a very different place in 2011 than it is in today.  In 2011, the U.S. added almost 7 GW of wind power capacity to the grid.  In 2013, that number slid close to 1 GW.

As Kiernan poignantly pointed out with a personal story, “there is magic in wind,” but perhaps what the American wind energy industry is experiencing today is more subtle.  Maybe today, the U.S. wind industry is more like a sailboat experiencing a warm steady breeze as opposed to the gale-force winds it experienced in the past.  And maybe that will make for a more enjoyable, stable ride in the long run.

Lead image: Sail on a boat via Shutterstock

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now


US Senate Democrats Unveil Energy Bill That Restores PTC and Extends ITC

Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg Senate Democrats unveiled a bill that would provide more tax credits for renewable energy while killing some tax ince...

Sage Grouse Removed as Threat to Biggest Wind Farm in U.S.

Christopher Martin, Bloomberg Billionaire Phil Anschutz’s plans to build a $5 billion wind farm in southeast Wyoming will no longer be stymied by t...

CEO Gilles: Challenge in Geothermal is to 'Level Playing Field' with Wind, Solar

Jennifer Delony The current challenge for the geothermal energy industry is what U.S. Geothermal CEO Dennis Gilles calls “leveling th...

NRG Energy to Form Renewable Unit, Sell Wind Assets to Yieldco

Mark Chediak and Matthew Monks, Bloomberg NRG Energy Inc., the worst-performing member of the S&P 500 Utilities Index this year, said it will form a renewa...

PRESS RELEASES Welcomes Jennifer Delony as Associate Editor

PennWell Corporation is pleased to announce that Jennifer Delony has joined the company...

Customized Energy Solutions Executes Agreement with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (“MassCEC”) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) for Important Energy Storage Study

Customized Energy Solutions (CES) has entered into agreements with Massachusetts Clean ...

CleanTX Releases New White Paper on the Future of Texas Solar in Texas

We love this new White Paper from our clean energy partners CleanTX

Sun Xtender® Launches New Website at

The newly designed website for Sun Xtender solar batteries is now live on the World Wid...


energy efficiency

Beyond the Trend: Maximizing the Impact of Your Energy Efficiency Solution

A revolution is happening in the energy sector. From the new regulations pushed out earlier this summer by the EPA’s ...

Northeast States Create Cap-and-Trade Program for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Northeast states have worked together for several decades to address air quality issues and, more recently, climate c...

Why the Solar PV Industry Should Love Geothermal Heat Pumps Pt 2

It’s a marriage made in heaven: Solar PV and Geothermal Heat Pumps Part 2 of a 6-Part Series Prevailing Heati...

Park District Goes Solar, Saves Big While Preserving Open Space

Not only do community parks provide green space for recreation and leisure, they also increase property values, attra...


Jennifer Runyon is chief editor of and Renewable Energy World magazine, coordinating, writing and/or editing columns, features, news stories and blogs for the publications. She also serves as conference chair of Renewable ...


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Doing Business in Europe – in partnership with GWEC, the Global Win...

There is now 128.8 GW of installed wind energy capacity in the EU (appro...

JuiceBox Energy Certified Installer Class

JuiceBox Energy is rapidly building out its national certified installer...

Wind Operator Congress Europe

The UK’s only business-focused O&M event for the European wind...


Clean Energy Patents Maintain High Levels in First Quarter, Solar L...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies from the first quarter of 201...

Koch Professor drops his Koch title, still makes same errors plus s...

The Koch Professor’s title isn’t the only thing that’s...

Fact Check: AWEA represents American wind power

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is proud of its members for ...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now