For wind, 2009 was a boom year, but we need RES for jobs

Today AWEA released its numbers for 2009, and the news was good– record-breaking, in fact. For the year, the wind energy industry installed nearly 10,000 MW of new capacity, compared with last year's record-breaking total of 8,500 MW.

Denise Bode, AWEA's CEO, said the Recovery Act incentives played a big role in the wind industry's growth last year, calling it “a historic success in creating jobs, avoiding carbon, and protecting consumers.” She added, “U.S. wind turbine manufacturing – the canary in the mine — is down compared to last year’s levels, and needs long-term policy certainty and market pull in order to grow. We need to set hard targets, in the form of a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES).”

Texas remains the leading state in wind energy installed. Others in the Top 5 are Iowa, California, Washington state and Minnesota.

Early last year, before the Recovery Act (ARRA), the industry anticipated that in 2009 wind power development might drop by as much as 50% from 2008 levels, with equivalent job losses. The clear commitment by the President to create clean energy jobs and the swift implementation of ARRA incentives by the Administration in mid-summer reversed the situation. Recovery Act incentives spurred the growth of construction, operations and maintenance, and management jobs, helping the industry to save and create jobs in those sectors.

The Obama White House in its Recovery Act blog, cited the wind industry as a job-creating engine of growth. “Across the country, communities are beginning to establish the clean energy industries that will power the 21st century global economy. “

Other facts from the 2009 wind industry report:

• The 9,922 MW installed last year expand the nation’s wind plant fleet by 39% and bring total wind power generating capacity in the U.S to over 35,000 MW.

• The five-year average annual growth rate for the industry is now 39%, up from 32% between 2003 and 2008.

• U.S. wind projects today generate enough to power the equivalent of 9.7 million homes, protecting consumers from fuel price volatility and strengthening our energy security.

• America’s wind power fleet will avoid an estimated 62 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking 10.5 million cars off the road, and will conserve approximately 20 billion gallons of water annually, which would otherwise be withdrawn for steam or cooling in conventional power plants.

Even with these good numbers, the industry plans to keep pressing Congress to enact an RES in 2010, arguing that a renewable standard is a job-creating mechanism that has no impact on the federal budget.

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