Wind Energy Installations Down, Lowest Since 2007

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently announced that the U.S. wind industry installed 539 megawatts (MW) in the first quarter of 2010, the lowest first quarter figure since 2007.

While the industry worked diligently to accelerate shovel-ready projects in 2009 and installed more than 10,000 MW, continued lack of long-term market signals, combined with low power demand and price, has allowed the pipeline for advanced projects to slow over the past 18 months. AWEA has called on Congress to put in place a strong national renewable electricity standard (RES) as part of comprehensive climate and energy legislation to provide the hard targets needed to stabilize the industry.

"Financing wind projects is an 18-month process and the struggles in 2009 to raise new capital, combined with lack of new demand from utilities, are now surfacing in the market and reflected in project installations, said Denise Bode, AWEA chief executive officer. "Minimal new installations and current announcements for project delays or downgrades in 2010 are the consequences of inaction to provide a serious market signal. With swift action today, wind project development can be nimble and ramp up quickly, creating new domestic manufacturing orders."

The U.S. wind energy industry is calling on Congress to enact a national RES to send the long-term signal the industry needs to invest and grow in a steady, sustained fashion, and to attract wind turbine manufacturing investment on a large scale. According to a recent national poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Bennett, Petts & Normington, a bipartisan team of pollsters, an RES is also politically popular among American voters with support seen across party lines with 65 percent of Republican voters, 69 percent of Independents and 92 percent of Democrats favoring the legislation.

Bode said: "Americans understand that an RES will mean new manufacturing jobs, less dependence on imported energy, and more pure, clean, affordable energy for our country. Wind energy is readily available today to revitalize our economy and yet Congress, by not acting, is allowing this bright spot in our economy to dim.

“Policy drives young energy industries as well as established ones, and depending on the policies put in place now we could be hiring or firing by the end of the year and in the years to come,” said Bode. “Stimulus funding successfully saved thousands of megawatts of shovel -ready wind projects and over 40,000 jobs in 2009, but we are setting up a vacuum if we don’t drive stable demand with a national renewable electricity standard.”

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