Transmission Holding Back Not Only Pickens’ Plans But All US Wind

This week, T. Boone Pickens announced that his plans to build the US $10 billion, 4,000-megawatt, Pampa Wind project are on hold. He cited lack of available transmission and funding concerns as the reason for the scale back. The oilman said that his development company, Mesa Power, will instead focus on smaller projects.

Picken’s announcement comes the same week the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has released its 20% Wind Report Card, addressing the progress made in the U.S. to the 20% wind figure laid out by the federal government last year. Pickens said transmission was the largest reason for his pull back and AWEA found it to be the largest area lacking in the U.S. wind market.

The report gives the U.S. a B for its 2008 progress toward reaching 20% of electricity supply from wind energy by 2030. The report card examines progress in four key areas–Technology Development, Manufacturing, Siting, and Transmission & Integration.

The results were mixed as the report card gave a C- to the nation’s efforts on transmission, technology development recieved a grade of A-, manufacturing a B+, and siting a B.

In 2008, the nation made great strides toward 20% wind, with wind accounting for 40% of the nation’s new generating capacity, the Report Card notes. However in 2009, wind farm development is expected to slow sharply leaving further progress somewhat in doubt.

According to AWEA, key policy ingredients needed to put the U.S. back on track to reach 20% wind by 2030 include a strong Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) with aggressive near-term targets in energy legislation now pending in Congress.

“A strong RES is essential to give businesses the certainty they need to invest in factories in the U.S. and create new jobs,” said Rob Gramlich, AWEA’s Policy Director “There is an opportunity to reach 500,000 U.S. jobs related to the wind industry alone under a 20% scenario, but a commitment from manufacturers and wind companies to add jobs requires a commitment from the U.S. policymakers to domestic renewable energy.”

For more information on the report card, click here.

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