The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has provided some projections for 2009.

“The world’s largest operating wind power project” will be a hotly

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contested designation this year: At least one new project may soon

surpass FPL Energy’s 736-megawatt (MW) Horse Hollow wind farm, which

has been the world’s largest for three years running. One project under

expansion, by E.ON Climate & Renewables (EC&R) North America,

and currently scheduled to go online in mid-2009, would have a total

capacity of 781.5 megawatts (MW) when it is completed.

Hopes

run high for greater federal policy stability. President-elect Obama

has outlined a range of policies that would encourage investments in

wind and renewables, and these policies are expected to be on the table

for serious discussion and possible early action in 2009. The policies

would signal a welcome shift for renewable energy technologies, whose

deployment has been hampered by the absence of long-term policy

stability.

New policies include:

• adjusting the federal

production tax credit (PTC) to make it more effective in the midst of

the current economic downturn and extending it for a longer term (it

expires at the end of 2009);

• establishing a national

renewable electricity standard (RES) with a target of generating at

least 25 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewables by 2025,

and a near-term target of 10 percent by 2012;

• legislation and initiatives to develop a high-voltage interstate transmission “highway” for renewable energy; and

• strong national climate change legislation.

States

will focus on RES, transmission for renewables. Expect one or more

states to implement (Indiana) or strengthen (Wisconsin and New York)

their Renewable Electricity Standards (RES), bringing the number of

states with an RES from 28 to perhaps 30. Look also for some states,

including some without an RES (Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska) to develop a

process to facilitate investment in transmission for electricity

generated using renewables. Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, and California

have already shown the way with pro-active transmission policies for

renewable energy.

“Baseload/peaking” is “out” and “smart mix”

is “in.” The electric industry faces dramatic transformations as it

wrestles with the challenges of the 21st century. The old paradigm that

assumed “baseload” power plants were necessary is being replaced by a

new paradigm where both demand and supply are managed in tandem, and

electricity is supplied by a smart, clean mix including a high level of

renewable and flexible technologies. Under its 20 percent wind by 2030

scenario (www.20percentwind.org), the U.S. Department of Energy found

that 20 percent wind would likely reduce the need for new coal and

leave the level of nuclear power unchanged.

The fast-growing wind power market is also opening up opportunities

for community wind, which are projects owned by farmers, ranchers, or

other local investors or public entities. Look for more community wind

proposals in 2009, and more AWEA education and outreach on the topic

over the course of the year.

AWEA business membership will

surge past 2,000 by mid-year. More companies see opportunities in the

wind energy industry, and the expanding AWEA business membership roll

is a measure of that interest. AWEA business membership increased to

more than 600 in 2005, and has soared over the 1,800 mark in 2008.

Industry

will finalize guidelines for wind turbine O&M. When an industry

becomes mainstream, it needs to put in place a variety of standards and

guidelines, and wind power is no exception. AWEA and the wind power

industry are working with the Occupational Safety and Health

Administration (OSHA) to develop safety guidelines for wind turbine

technicians and O&M workers at utility-scale wind projects. AWEA

will be presenting educational Webinars to OSHA personnel in early

2009.

AWEA expects to finalize standards for small wind

turbines: Standards for small wind turbines will help ensure

qualification for the new small wind turbine federal investment credit

that is now available for homeowners and small businesses investing in

a small wind system. Manufacturing standards have long been in place

for utility-scale wind turbines and continue to evolve with the

technology.

Homeowners, farmers, and small-business owners now

benefit from a federal incentive enacted in late 2008 for the purchase

of small wind systems. However, this credit is capped. Owners of small

wind systems with 100 kilowatts (kW) of capacity and less can receive a

credit for 30 percent of the total installed cost of the system, not to

exceed $4,000. For turbines used for homes, the credit is additionally

limited to the lesser of $4,000 or $1,000 per kW of capacity. Look for

an effort to remove this limitation, so that consumers can benefit from

a credit of a full 30 percent of the total cost of a small wind turbine

purchased for an individual home or business.

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