Association Predicts Expanded Role for Wind Power

Association Predicts Expanded Role for Wind Power

The total generating capacity of wind power plants in the United States is likely to increase by 30% to 50% by the end of next year, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

According to Randall Swisher, AWEA’s executive director, wind energy is continuing to grow rapidly worldwide, and market conditions are ripe for expansion.

Among market forces propelling wind forward, Swisher says, are:
  • A major run-up in the price of natural gas, the cheapest fossil fuel, over the past year. Natural gas prices are now nearly double what they were in early 1999, due to the expanding U.S. economy and to greater use of gas as a powerplant fuel. Supplies are tight, and the higher prices are beginning to trickle down to individual and industrial consumers.
  • Electricity shortages and price spikes across the country, caused by unusually warm weather, the economic boom, and a lack of new power plants over the past several years. According to AWEA, the construction lead time for wind plants is much shorter than for conventional generation plants.
  • A federal tax incentive due wind plants installed before the end of 2001. The production tax credit expires December 31, 2001.
  • Falling costs. Over the last 20 years, the cost of electricity from utility-scale wind systems has dropped by more than 80%. State-of-the-art wind power plants now generate power at costs as low as four cents per kilowatt-hour, a price that is competitive with many conventional energy technologies.

AWEA is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. The association's membership of more than 700 includes turbine manufacturers, wind project developers, utilities, academicians, and interested individuals from 49 states.

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