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News roundup: Iowa wants the PTC extended, there's record growth in U.S. wind, and renewables dominate new generation

News roundup: Iowa wants the PTC extended, there's record growth in U.S. wind, and renewables dominate new generation
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It’s Thursday, and the Iowa legislature passed a resolution urging a PTC extension, there’s a record 2014 ahead for American wind power, and renewables took a big slice of the new generation pie in 2013.

Iowa continues to lead on wind power, as the state legislature yesterday passed a bipartisan resolution urging the extension of the Production Tax Credit:

  • The unanimous and bipartisan vote should come as no surprise, as Iowa understands the economic and other benefits of American wind power. Back in the 1980s, Republican Governor Terry Branstad, who happens to be governor once again, played a big role in getting the nation’s first state Renewable Portfolio Standard on the books.
  • Iowans now get nearly 25 percent of their energy from wind power, which has driven billions of dollars into their state’s economy, supports over 6,000 good-paying jobs, and provides millions of dollars a year to the state’s landowners. For Iowa family farmers and ranchers, wind has become a new drought-resistant cash crop.
  • The PTC is wind energy’s primary policy driver and has spurred tens of billions of dollars of private investment in the nation.  The resolution calls for “the extension of the federal production tax credit for wind energy, preferably for a multiple-year period to maximize the benefits of the production tax credit.”

Windpower Engineering and Development reports that U.S. wind power is seeing its largest-ever under-construction figures in 2014, a record-breaking 12 gigawatts:

  • The American wind energy industry responded to the extension of the Production Tax Credit in 2013 by starting construction on an historic and unprecedented number of new wind farms, backed by Power Purchase Agreements with electric utilities on a record scale by the close of the year.
  • The record growth for wind energy at the end of 2013 resulted not only from the extension of the Production Tax Credit (which provides up-front tax relief of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of a project), but also from investments in technological advancements that have driven down the cost of wind energy by 43 percent in just four years. “Our current growth demonstrates how powerful the tax credit is at incentivizing investment in wind energy,” [AWEA CEO Tom] Kiernan said. “Now it’s up to Congress to ensure that growth continues by extending this highly successful policy.”
  • At the end of 2013 there were more U.S. wind power megawatts (MW) under construction than ever in history: Over 12,000 MW of new generating capacity was under construction, with a record-breaking 10,900 MW starting construction activity during the fourth quarter. The wind projects under construction could power the equivalent of 3.5 million American homes, or all the households in Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Over a third of all new U.S. energy capacity came from renewable resources in 2013, taking a big slice of last year's new energy pie:

  • Renewable energy sources, including solar, wind energy, geothermal and hydropower, made up over 37% of all new domestic electricity generating capacity that was installed in 2013, according to the latest Energy Infrastructure Report from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Office of Energy Projects.
  • Reaching a total of 5,279 megawatts, renewable energy that came online in 2013 was triple that of traditional fuel sources [excluding natural gas], and now accounts for just under 16% of America’s total installed operating generating capacity.
  • Solar power came out on top with 2,936 megawatts of new generating capacity, followed by wind with 1,129 megawatts. The new solar capacity in 2013 is almost 43% more than the same period in 2012.

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

Sources:

Carl Levesque, “Iowa Senate unites in call for PTC extension.” Into the Wind. 5 February 2014.

Paul Dvorak, “American wind power sees unprecedented growth entering 2014.” Windpower Engineering & Development. 5 February 2014.

The Climate Group, “Over 1/3 of new U.S. energy capacity is clean and green.” Earth Techling. 5 February 2014.

 

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