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New AWEA Board Chair: "It's time for presidential candidates to back American wind power for its economic benefits."

BY MIKE GARLAND Coming off a year in which the industry added 23,000 jobs and put $23 billion of private investment behind 100 wind projects, the American Wind Energy Association declared it’s time for the industry to start flexing its muscle.

“From the smallest companies to the largest, we have a shared responsibility to make this vision a reality,”said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy and the newly appointed AWEA board chairman, during Wednesday’s Wind Industry Leaders panel at WINDPOWER 2015.  “Everyone in this industry needs to demand a five-year PTC.”

While the cost of wind power has declined over 58 per cent in just five years, meeting the Department of Energy's vision will require a long-term stable policy environment that allows for a continued downward trajectory of wind costs. The production tax credit, or PTC, is the primary federal incentive for building more new wind farms.

Garland noted that Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and potential presidential candidate, has already come out in favor of a multi-year extension of the PTC, adding that “it’s the industry’s job" to make sure other candidates do the same.

“What we do now will determine our success for years to come,” Garland declared. “Let’s do our part and remind everyone that wind energy helps everyone, that wind is American’s clean, domestic and cheap fuel.”

Garland called on companies big and small to help the industry stay on track to meet the scenarios laid out in the US Department of Energy’s Wind Vision report released earlier this year. That starts with American wind power doubling from where it is today to 10 per cent of the US electricity mix by 2020 to 20 per cent by 2030. The ultimate aim is for wind power to become one of the leading sources of electricity by 2050.

Expanding on Garland’s comments were six other leading wind industry executives. Following are their comments:

Chris Brown, president of Vestas: “For us, it’s pretty simple. We want to be the undisputed global wind leader. Full stop...It’s about one thing: least cost of energy. We’re economic against a lot of forms of energy in most of the parts of the country. If we continue to drive that, we don’t become a political story -- we become an economic story.”

Tim Maag, vice president and general manager, US and Canada, Mortenson Wind Energy Group: “We really need to embrace lean innovation. We are just starting the process of really figuring out how to become more efficient, how to identify and drive out waste in our industry.”

James Murphy, executive vice president, CFO and COO of Invenergy LLC: “We’re talking about adding 10 gigawatts a year [in meeting Wind Vision]. That’s something like $15 billion of investment. We need broaden the capital base.”

Posted 22/05/2015 by Reg Tucker

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