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Wind energy industry breaks records in 2012

Published: Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 12:04 p.m. CDT

The U.S. Government’s finical backing of the wind energy industry has paid off. The America Wind Energy Association announced that 2012 was a record year in electric generating capacity.

The milestone of 60,000 gig watts was reached in just five months after the AWEA announced that the U.S. industry had 50,000 megawatts installed.

“We are excited that 2012 proved to be the largest in U.S. history in regards to electric generating capacity,” TPI Composites General Manager Mark Parriott said. “We are also happy that in the closing hours Congress extended the wind energy tax credits.”

During the “fiscal cliff,” the wind energy industry was worried about losing government funding, and rightfully so. If the government did not pass the extensions, many employers, including those in Newton, would have to consider reducing staff because of loss of funds.

In a study done by Navigant Consulting, it was predicted that about 37,000 jobs would have been lost had congress not passed the extension.

In a press release supplied to the Daily News, AWEA stated the following:

“In this historic year of achievement, wind energy for the first time became the number one source of new U.S. electric generating capacity, providing some 42 percent of all new generating capacity; the final tally will be released in April in AWEA’s annual report. In fact, 2012 was a strong year for all renewable, as together they accounted for over 55 percent of all new U.S. generating capacity.”

“In last year’s fourth quarter alone, 8,380 MW were installed, making it the strongest quarter in U.S. wind power history. This was due in large part to impending expiration of the successful federal Production Tax Credit. It was slated to end on Dec. 31, 2012, but was extended by Congress on Jan. 1, 2013, as part of the “fiscal cliff package,” the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.”

Parriott was pleased that wind energy surpassed natural gas in the report.

“If you look at the numbers, wind was the largest form of new energy,” Parriott said. “In 2012 we were number one in new generating capacity. In the past, we have competed favorably with natural gas. In 2012, wind energy surpassed natural gas in new energy formed.” 

Iowa ranked sixth in new capacity installations, and that may change. The entire wind industry was waiting to see the outcome of congress’s discussion to pass the extension of the wind energy tax credits. Because the government passed the wind energy extension, TPI has had dialog with potential new customers.

“It is a real testament to American innovation and hard work that for the first time ever a renewable energy source was number one in new capacity,” AWEA Interim CEO Rob Gramlich said. “We are thrilled to mark this major milestone in the nation’s progress toward a cleaner energy system.”

“America’s wind energy industry is back on track,” said Gramlich. “With a banner year to celebrate, we look forward to showing how wind power can continue to strengthen America’s energy future, and create jobs and business for our families and communities.”

Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at mshepard@newtondailynews.com.

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