Energy legislation needs stronger near-term targets to build up domestic manufacturing base, keep U.S. in lead, say wind industry leaders

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This morning,

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members of America’s wind power industry laid out a compelling case to

strengthen the proposed Congressional renewable electricity standard

(RES) in order to protect American jobs and maintain America’s

leadership status in the increasingly competitive global wind power

industry.

Testifying before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, G.E. Vice Chair and Energy Infrastructure President and CEO John Krenicki called for any federal RES passed this year to be significantly stronger than proposals now on the table.

Legislation passed by the House and a Senate committee last month,

Krenicki said, fall far short of what is needed and would have

“disastrous” consequences for the domestic wind industry in the near

term. Current proposals, due to carve-outs in definitions and

calculations of the standard, do not drive new renewable energy

deployment in the near term.

“While

the U.S. struggles to determine the future of clean energy, other

countries around the world are setting aggressive near-term and

long-term standards and incentives to create large domestic markets for

renewable energy,” Krenicki said. “Both the RES

passed by the House of Representatives and the RES approved by the

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month are far too

weak to drive growth. The current RES proposals for 2012 – anywhere

from 3 to 6 percent of total U.S. electricity generation – are

essentially equal to or below the status quo.”

“Massive

new investments in manufacturing will not be made in the U.S. today

based on the hope of a strong carbon price signal 10 years from now,”

explained Krenicki. “It would take a 12% renewable

electricity standard by 2012, with reasonable percentages to be

satisfied by energy efficiency measures, to enable U.S. wind

deployments to continue on the current growth trajectory,” Krenicki said.

“Such a standard would also help drive dollars to small companies and

developers waiting for stimulus checks to begin rolling out, and help

sustain a domestic industry that cannot wait for longer term carbon

legislation to come into effect.”

The Senate is currently holding hearings on climate and energy

legislation and is expected to mark up legislation in September. The

House passed its version of the bill, the American Clean Energy and

Security Act, late last month. Leading voices in the wind industry

echoed Krenicki’s call for more robust U.S. policy to support renewable

energy.

“The U.S. wind

industry is on the cusp of either expanding upon the rapid gains made

in recent years or giving up those gains to foreign competitors, and

national energy policy – namely, a strong RES – will make the

difference,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“Unfortunately, the current RES proposals do not seize the historic

opportunity we have today to build up the nation’s manufacturing base

and revitalize our economy.”

AWEA last week released its annual “20% Wind Report Card,” which showed

that while wind accounted for 40% of the nation’s new energy generating

capacity in 2008, wind farm development in 2009 is expected to slow as

a result of the economic downturn, leading to a drop in wind turbine

and wind turbine component orders. Meanwhile, strong RES targets have

the ability to produce hundreds of thousands of jobs in the near and

long term, according to a recent study by the Blue-Green Alliance. The

U.S. wind power industry added or expanded more than 70 manufacturing

facilities in the past two years (2007-2008), including over 55 in 2008

alone, according to AWEA.

“We

are at an extraordinary point in the U.S. wind energy industry today,

with the U.S. having pulled into #1 position last year and invested in

a record number of manufacturing facilities,” said Sampson A. Brown, President/CEO of Knight & Carver Wind Group,

a blade manufacturing and repair company with facilities in California

and South Dakota. “Congress needs to lock in the industry’s momentum

with a strong RES. Now is the time for decisive action – not only for

our company and our industry, but for the nation’s energy future.”

Both Europe and China have publicly committed to strong renewable

energy policies in the near term. The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive

commits member nations to an average of 25% renewables between 2011 and

2012. China has doubled its wind power capacity in each of the last

four years, and expects to have 30,000 megawatts of wind installed by

the end of 2010 – 10 years ahead of a target set last year. The U.S.

currently has over 28,000 megawatts of wind power capacity.

“A strong RES is a pro-jobs policy that we can’t afford to pass up,” said Parthiv Amin, President of Winergy,

a company based in Illinois that manufactures gearboxes for wind

turbines. “A robust RES would send a clear signal in the US market, and

would unleash a wave of investment and job creation in our domestic

manufacturing base.”

Source: American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)

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About the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):

AWEA

is the national trade association of America’s wind industry, with more

than 1,900 member companies, including global leaders in wind power and

energy development, wind turbine manufacturing, component and service

suppliers, and the world’s largest wind power trade show. AWEA is the

voice of wind energy in the U.S., promoting renewable energy to power a

cleaner, stronger America. Look up information on wind energy at the AWEA Web site. Find insight on industry issues at AWEA’s blog Into the Wind. Join AWEA on Facebook. Follow AWEA on Twitter.

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