Home > Property & Casualty > The significance of U.S. wind power in the present and future

The significance of U.S. wind power in the present and future

wind_turbinesAccording to data released in March by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA), wind energy produced 4.4 percent of all of the U.S.’s electricity in 2014, and retained its position as the fifth largest source of electricity in the country. Renewable energy sources, including hydropower, now produce over 13 percent of the U.S.’s electricity, with wind power contributing a third of that amount. Wind power is also proving to be a cost-effective solution for states and utilities to limit pollution, as the American wind fleet has reduced carbon dioxide pollution by approximately 125 million metric tons, which is equivalent to 26 million cars worth of carbon emissions.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has reported that wind energy’s growth has been fueled by technological improvements and cost declines that have slashed the cost of wind energy by greater than half over the past five years. Wind power provided enough electricity in 2014 to power the equivalent of 16.7 million homes. When newly developed wind projects have had one full year of production, the number of homes is estimated to increase to 18 million.

According to AWEA, American wind power now supports well-paying manufacturing jobs at over 500 manufacturing facilities across 43 states, and 50,000 well-paying industry jobs. Wind farms produce more than $180 million per year to landowners in lease payments, as greater than 98 percent of wind projects are constructed on private land. The last time the policy was allowed to expire, the U.S. economy lost $23 billion, almost 30,000 jobs, and a 92 percent drop in wind installations the following year.

Congress faces the option to prolong the Production Tax Credit (PTC) after it was allowed to expire in 2014. The primary federal tax incentive is a critical reason why American wind farms are more productive than those in other countries. New additions to the U.S. wind fleet have produced an average of $12.2 billion per year in private investment over the past five years, and $100 billion since 2008. American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan has stated that wind has the potential to be the leading source of energy in the country by 2050, but “Congress must provide wind with the same policy certainty it provides to other energy sources by rapidly extending the Production Tax Credit for as long as possible.”

The WGA Clean Energy Team will be in attendance at this week’s AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition in Orlando from May 18-21.

About the Author

Molly Lovelette is an Assistant Vice President at WGA in the Property and Casualty Group, with a specialized focus in energy and construction policies in WGA’s Renewable Energy and Clean Tech Practice. She serves the day-to-day needs of numerous energy clients, including independent power producers, owner-operators and manufacturers in the wind, solar, landfill gas, waste-to-energy and fossil fuel industries.

617.646.0245 | Mlovelette@wgains.com | Connect with Molly on LinkedIn

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