Recently, AWEA released its Annual Market Report for 2013, as well as its First Quarter 2014 Market Report. The reports show the real difference that wind power can continue to make to the U.S. electricity mix, given a stable policy future.
So what’s new?
The U.S. wind industry did not install much wind power capacity in 2013, reflecting the impact of the policy uncertainty that the wind industry faced throughout 2012.
The numbers were small:
1,087 megawatts (MW) installed in 2013, compared to 13,131 in 2012 – a 92% drop in new capacity
Corresponding drop in investment, $2 billion into the US economy in 2013, compared to $25 billion in 2012
- Loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs – ending the year with 50,500 total wind industry jobs, as compared to 80,700 jobs at the end of 2012
In total, though, wind power is making impressive contributions to the U.S. electricity supply:
Wind now provides over 4% of our electricity nationally
- Iowa and South Dakota get over 25% of their electricity from wind power; nine states get more than 10% and six states get more than 15% of their electricity from wind power
As you may recall, Congress allowed the PTC to expire at the end of 2012. Then, our legislators extended the credit in early January 2013, allowing projects that started construction by the end of 2013 to qualify for the credit (rather than requiring that they be operational by the end of 2013, as required in the past). The uncertainty throughout 2012 caused wind project development to come to a halt, and manufacturing orders to cease, resulting in little development and significant job loss as noted above.
How’s this year looking so far?
The PTC extension in 2013 allowed developers to put plans back in motion. As a result, 2014 is off to a great start:
Over 13,000 MW of wind power under construction – more than any other time in history – and including over 95 projects across 21 states
214 MW of wind power installed so far — more than in the first three quarters of 2013
- Utility companies and corporate purchasers continue to announce agreements to purchase wind power – they announced 8,000 MW of power purchase agreements in 2013, and about another 1,000 MW so far this year
Is there a catch?
Yes – federal policy for the wind energy industry is still uncertain. The PTC expired again, at the end of 2013. Without an extension, the wind industry is looking at the prospect of near-term downturns in project development, and job layoffs as well.
The Senate Finance Committee has acted to extend the PTC, and a credit that developers can choose instead of the PTC, the investment tax credit (ITC). They extended these provisions as part of the EXPIRE Act in early April. The bill moves to the Senate floor for consideration next, and we will keep you updated on that front. It will be important to weigh in with your Senators about the importance of extending the PTC through the EXPIRE Act. You can speak up today, by sending an email to your Senators through our Power of Wind advocacy network.
If you're interested in more information about American wind power, take a look at these resources:
- AWEA State Fact Sheets
- AWEA U.S. Wind Industry First Quarter 2014 Market Report
- AWEA U.S. Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2013