WASHINGTON, DC, August 26, 2003 (ENS): The United States will
install 1,400 to 1,600 MW of new wind power this year,
according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA),
the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy
While the outlook for the rest of the year is strong,
the AWEA warned that the wind industry's future will
depend on whether Congress extends the wind production
tax credit scheduled to expire December 31. Developers
are pushing to complete projects by the end of the year
in order to qualify for the production tax credit authorized
for this year.
Project developments now underway could increase the
cumulative total of U.S. installed wind capacity to
over 6,000 megawatts (MW) up from just 240 MW 20 years
ago, according to the AWEA's quarterly assessment of
the wind energy market, released August 20.
That level of capacity produces about 16 billion kilowatt
hours of electricity, enough to serve 1.57 million average
AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher said, "We
see more reason for optimism than we did three months
ago. The market appears to be firming as the end of
the year draws nearer."
A quick extension of the tax credit is urgently needed,
Swisher said, to ensure that the momentum gained toward
industry growth is not lost as it has been in the past
when the credit expired.
A three year extension of the credit is included in
both the House and Senate versions of comprehensive
energy legislation now pending in Congress.
"The industry's growth continues to be hampered
by a wide range of market barriers, from utility unfamiliarity
with the technology to problems obtaining fair access
to transmission lines," Swisher said. "The
PTC provides the stimulus needed to overcome these barriers
and open the market, and its extension is critical to
the industry's future."
Wind power development is also a critical component
of the whole U.S. energy picture. Every unit of electricity
that is produced by a wind farm is one for which the
country does not have to burn natural gas or other resources.
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced last month
that U.S. natural gas reserves are low, and warned Americans
that they will face price hikes this winter.
Assistant Energy Secretary Vicky Bailey told a natural
gas forum in New Hampshire Thursday that current stocks
of natural gas in underground storage are unusually
low due to a combination of cold weather in parts of
the country and declines in both domestic production
and net imports. At the same time, she said, demand
is projected to grow 50 percent over the next 25 years.
The wind industry association believes that more wind
plants provide the quickest supply-side option to ease
the natural gas shortage. The AWEA estimates that the
installed capacity of 6,000 MW of wind power expected
by year's end will save approximately 0.5 billion cubic
feet of natural gas per day in 2004, alleviating 10
to 15 percent of the supply pressure now facing the
natural gas industry.
The largest wind power project to be installed in the
U.S. this year - the 204 MW New Mexico Wind Energy Center
built by FLP Energy - is expected to produce energy
to supply more than 51,000 homes. More than six billion
cubic feet of natural gas per year would be needed to
generate the same amount of electricity, the AWEA says.
Swisher also called on energy bill conferees to support
measures passed by the Senate that would establish a
national Renewables Portfolio Standard requiring that
10 percent of the nation's electricity come from renewable
energy sources by 2020.
The Senate has also approved a Small Turbine Investment
Credit for homeowners who install residential wind machines,
which the AWEA supports.
The association points out that the best wind power
resource in the country is in rural areas, where it
is a source of skilled jobs, income to farmers, and
taxes to the community.
A consortium of wind power leaders - including Shell
WindEnergy, Padoma Wind Power, Green Mountain Energy
Co., TXU Energy, Cielo Wind Power, and Orion Energy
- has announced that it would build a 160 MW project
in western Texas that will contribute to the local economy.
When operational at the end of this year, the wind farm,
90 miles southeast of Lubbock, will generate enough
electricity for some 30,000 homes.
The consortium will lease the land for the project
from private farmers and ranchers, who can receive $2,000
to $3,000 per turbine annually, with no more than 2.5
acres per turbine removed from production for turbines,
access roads, and other equipment, says the AWEA.
David Jones, director of Shell WindEnergy, said the
branch of Shell Oil is "committed to being a major
player in the American wind sector."
States in the Upper Midwest - North and South Dakota,
Minnesota, and Iowa - will add more than 375 MW of new
wind power in 2003. "If those states were to generate
the same amount of electricity with America's current
fuel mix, it would create nearly 600 million tons of
carbon dioxide," the AWEA said. "Using the
wind instead is like taking more than 160,000 cars off
A state by state map of installed wind energy capacity
is online at: http://www.awea.org/projects/index.html
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2003. All Rights