News roundup: An optimistic first quarter, wind leads capacity construction, new energy for New Mexico

30 April 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

Wednesday’s roundup highlights AWEA’s first quarter numbers and the optimism for a PTC extension in the near future, wind’s leading role in new capacity construction, and how a new wind farm in New Mexico will power thousands of homes.

As people head to Vegas at the end of this week for WINDPOWER 2014, the industry celebrates an improving first quarter, and optimism is high that a PTC extension is in the Senate’s cards:

  • While modest by 2010 and 2011 standards, AWEA reports that the 133 turbines installed during the first quarter tops the 1.6 MW installed for the first three quarters of 2013 - when uncertainty surrounding the federal wind production tax credit (PTC) kept project development to a minimum.
  • However, AWEA is looking forward and asserts that the first quarter of 2014 is the beginning of a production boom, as more than 13 GW of wind energy projects are under construction. AWEA notes that more wind power capacity is now under construction than at any time in the history of the U.S. wind industry.
  • The wind industry is hoping that the surge in activity will resonate on Capitol Hill as the full Senate prepares to take up a tax extenders package, including the PTC. "The U.S. wind industry has a busy few weeks ahead," said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan in a statement. "An extension of the PTC is essential to continuing the growth of U.S. wind energy, and we look forward to watching the full Senate take up the package soon."

Wind power is taking the lead for new power capacity in 2014, with record levels of projects under construction:

  • Last October, renewable energy accounted for nearly 100 percent of all new generation capacity in the U.S. For the first quarter of 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that renewable energy sources, primarily wind and solar, made up more than 90 percent of new installed power capacity, with natural gas making up the remainder.
  • In the case of renewables, however, new generation capacity isn't necessarily available to the grid. Just a few years ago, the image of all of that planned wind would prompt industry observers to wonder when it would finally be connected to the grid.
  • But grid connections are coming along, too. In 2013, four major transmission projects were completed, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The four connections can carry about 10,000 megawatts of new wind, and there are another fifteen projects in the advanced stages of development that will carry another 60,000 megawatts by 2018, according to AWEA.

A new project in New Mexico promises to power about 200,000 homes while creating hundreds of construction jobs:

  • New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell said that Triangle Gallegos, a wind energy company based in Hereford, Texas, has won the bid for a Union County wind farm project. The facility is to be located on about 19,000 acres of State Trust Land and 31,000 acres of private land 35 miles west of Clayton.
  • The proposed project ultimately could generate about 500 megawatts of electricity via 285 wind turbines, according to the state. The project will be built in two phases starting in 2015, creating 400 total construction jobs and about 20 permanent jobs.
  • “This new project will build upon this success. With the wind and solar projects in the pipeline, the Land Office will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in future years for support of our public schools, universities and hospitals throughout the state.”

Be sure to check out this week’s other roundups:

Sources:

Staff. “Vegas-Bound AWEA Releases Modest First Quarter Numbers: Is PTC Extension in the Cards?North American Windpower. 29 April 2014.

Katherine Tweed, “Chart: Wind Energy Dominates the 37GW of Power Under Construction.” The Energy Collective. 29 April 2014.

Gary Gerew, “Texas company wins contract for wind farm.” Albuquerque Business First. 29 April 2014.