Wind Power Posts Strong Q4 Results, but PTC Uncertainty Looms

The U.S. wind industry posted strong fourth quarter results, AWEA reported on Thursday during a webinar for members and press.

The U.S. wind industry installed just over 6,810 MW in 2011, 31 percent higher than 2010, and has more than 8,300 MW under construction, setting the stage for a strong 2012. Overall, the results show that wind power is forging ahead into new states like Ohio and Nevada while doubling down on installations in existing strong wind markets like California, Illinois, Iowa and Kansas.

The fourth quarter market report can be found here. AWEA member companies can access a members-only version of the report by logging on to the member center at awea.org.

Illinois was a very strong performer in 2011, clocking in as number two for installations in the last year and rising to number four in wind power overall (the only mover in the overall top 10). Kansas topped the under-construction list with more than 1,188 MW of wind scheduled to come online in 2012. Ohio was another success story as the nation’s fastest growing state in wind power for 2011.

“This shows what wind power is capable of: building new projects, powering local economies and creating jobs,” said Denise Bode, AWEA CEO. “Traditional tax incentives are working. This tremendous activity is being driven by the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC)—which leveraged an average of more than $16 billion a year in private investment over the last several years and supported tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.”

Also participating in the webinar were Richard Morrison, President and CEO of Molded Fiber Glass Companies and Terry Royer, CEO of Winergy Drive Systems. Both emphasized how vital the PTC is for their businesses and for the jobs they can provide in the manufacturing sector. 

A recent report by Navigant Consulting finds that if Congress allows the PTC for wind to expire, jobs in the wind industry will be cut in half, meaning a loss of 37,000 American jobs and a one-third cut to American wind manufacturing jobs, while private investment in the industry would drop by nearly two thirds. And Navigant found that these job losses will begin now and accelerate with each month the PTC nears the expiration deadline at the end of the year. Meanwhile, extending the PTC will allow the wind industry to grow to almost 100,000 American jobs in just four years and stay on track toward supporting 500,000 American jobs by 2030. The report can be found here.

As Denise Bode stated on the call, “American wind power is creating one of America’s fastest growing manufacturing sectors, but businesses need certainty. That is why we are urging Congress to extend the Production Tax Credit now, before the end of the first quarter, to keep this strong growth going.”

Carl Levesque is the communications editor at AWEA. This article first appeared in the AWEA Windletter and was reprinted with permission from the American Wind Energy Association.

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Carl is Editor & Publications Manager at the American Wind Energy Association, where has worked since 2006. At AWEA he oversees AWEA's online and print publications including the Wind Energy Weekly, Windpower Update, and other products. He has worked as a journalist in the energy industry as a staff writer for Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine and in the association sector as senior editor at Association Management magazine. He also has covered the home-building industry, where his areas of greatest interest were sustainable development and "smart growth," and has written articles for numerous other publications as a freelance writer. Carl received his B.A. from James Madison University and spent some time in New Orleans teaching as well as working with homeless youth.

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