AWEA: US Wind Industry Strong

As the U.S. Senate continues consideration of national energy legislation, the American wind energy industry is poised to continue building on 2001 — its most successful year in history — and is the focus of growing interest by major players in the energy field, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

WASHINGTON, D.C. 2002-03-15 [] The industry is receiving a boost not only from the recent two-year extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), which was signed into law March 9, but from a series of announcements by utilities, oil companies, and other firms that they see wind energy in their future. Wind energy supporters are hopeful that with a further three-year extension of the PTC included in the Senate energy bill, the industry will at last have a stable financial environment and the serious corporate participation needed to put it on the road to steady long-term growth. Among recent industry developments, AWEA said, are the following: -AMERICAN ELECTRIC POWER (AEP), one of the nation’s largest utilities, spent US$175 million in late December to buy the 160 MW Indian Mesa wind plant in West Texas. Previously, AEP had invested US$160 million to build its own 150 MW wind farm at Trent Mesa, also in West Texas. -P and CHEVRONTEXACO announced in mid-January that they will build and operate a 22.5 MW wind plant at their jointly-owned Nerefco oil refinery near Rotterdam in The Netherlands. -ENTERGY, a major utility based in New Orleans, La., purchased a majority interest in the 80 MW Top of Iowa wind farm from Houston, Tex.-based Zilkha Renewable Energy and its partner, Midwest Renewable Energy Corp. -FPL ENERGY, a subsidiary of FPL Corp., which also owns the large utility Florida Power & Light, announced January 7 that it had added 844 MW of wind power to its power generation portfolio during 2001. The company, America’s largest wind plant operator, now operates 1,830 MW of wind, of which it owns 1,439 MW. -GE POWER SYSTEMS said in late February that it has signed an agreement to purchase the manufacturing capability of Enron Wind Corp., the largest U.S.-based utility-scale wind turbine manufacturer. -PACIFICORP POWER MARKETING (PPM), affiliated with Pacificorp, a large utility based in Portland, Ore., is playing a major role in building the market for wind in the Northwest. The company is purchasing and marketing power from three wind plants in the West, including the 261 MW Stateline Project, and has said it plans to add substantial wind capacity to its portfolio over the next few years. -SHELL subsidiary Shell WindEnergy, Inc., announced in late January that it had purchased an 80 MW wind plant near Amarillo, Texas Shell WindEnergy also owns a 50 MW wind project in Wyoming and Shell is developing or operating more than 1,000 MW of wind in the U.S. and Europe. TXU, a large utility based in Dallas, Tex., announced in early January that it plans to purchase a 40 percent equity stake in two wind farms under construction in central Spain. TXU is already one of the largest U.S. purchasers of wind-generated electricity, buying the output of several Texas wind plants. -UTILICORP UNITED, based in Kansas City, Missouri, commissioned a 110 MW wind plant near Montezuma, Kansas, in December. “This string of announcements by major energy corporations is rapidly changing the face of the wind energy business,” said Randall Swisher, AWEA executive director. “Coming on the heels of the industry’s most successful year, in the U.S. and worldwide, it signals that wind energy is moving into the big leagues. AWEA estimates that with continued government encouragement and broad utility support, wind energy will provide at least six percent of the nation’s electricity by 2020.”

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