Recession threatens wind power, industry group says

Posted on January 30, 2009. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Even as it reported a record-breaking year, the American Wind Energy Association warned that the recession is slowing wind-power development and urged Congress to support renewable energy in its economic stimulus legislation.

The wind power industry invested $17 billion and added 8,358 megawatts of new generating capacity last year – enough to power more than 2 million homes – but the Washington-based trade group said that financing for new projects and orders for turbine components slowed by the end of the year.

“Our numbers are both exciting and sobering,” said Denise Bode, the association’s chief executive. “It is clear that the economic and financial downturn have begun to take a serious toll on new wind development. We are already seeing layoffs in the area where wind’s promise is greatest for our economy: the wind power manufacturing sector.”

Bode called for action in Congress on an economic stimulus package that includes initiatives designed to expand renewable energy generation.

Capacity is increasing
Wisconsin saw a sevenfold increase in wind power capacity last year, as new wind power projects opened in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties. Those projects included the Blue Sky Green Field wind power project opened by We Energies, the Forward Wind Energy Center built by Invenergy of Chicago and Cedar Ridge, developed by Wisconsin Power & Light Co.

The state ranks 15th in the nation in wind power capacity, according to figures from AWEA. Iowa ranks second to Texas, after passing California in 2008. Several Wisconsin utilities have signed up to bring in wind power from Iowa, where the winds are stronger and turbines operate more efficiently than turbines erected in Wisconsin.

The association said wind power is creating jobs across the country, as wind turbine and turbine component manufacturers announced, added or expanded 55 new facilities in 2008, creating 13,000 jobs, the association said.

Also reporting this week it had a record year: Madison-based WindConnect, a unit of RMT Inc., which provides engineering, siting and construction services for new wind power developments.

We Energies has announced plans to open another wind power project, the Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County, at a cost of up to $530 million.


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