Industrial wind – the modern day Hobo? Possibly, but the Hobo actually worked for the handout it received.
Thanks to the Allegheny Front Alliance for directing us to this article:
January 26, 2010
Saved by Stimulus in 2009, Wind Industry Pushes for RES
By MIKE SORAGHAN of Greenwire
The federal stimulus package turned what could have been a disastrous 2009 for the wind industry into its best year ever.
But industry promoters warn that things could get bleak again if Congress does not enact a “renewable energy standard” that orders power companies to use a set percentage of power generated by wind, sun or other renewable sources.
“We thought we were going to lose half our industry,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Then the Recovery Act came along, and we were able to create jobs.”
Wind farm installations created 1,500 to 2,000 construction, operations and maintenance jobs, according to AWEA. But the uncertainty of federal policy caused manufacturing to drop off and cost an equivalent loss of jobs in that portion of the industry.
The wind industry installed more than 9,900 megawatts of generating capacity, AWEA said. The association says that is enough to serve more than 2.4 million homes, about as many as there are in Washington state. Bode said that meant the United States should edge China for the lead in wind power installation for 2009.
Before the stimulus passed, the industry was projecting that wind power development could drop by as much as 50 percent compared to 2008. The renewable portion of the $787 billion legislation created construction, operations and maintenance, and management jobs, according to AWEA.
“It’s a real tribute to the administration to see that the industry needed a lifeline and delivered,” Bode said.
But the lack of an RES caused investment in the manufacturing sector to drop compared with the previous year, she said. New orders dropped, and suppliers found themselves stuck with high inventory. There were one-third fewer wind power manufacturing facilities online, announced and expanded.
Bode said the wind industry needs the economic certainty created by an RES for manufacturers to expand their U.S. operations.
“We need to set hard targets,” Bode said. “Frankly, the country is going to need this energy.”
But what Bode calls certainty, others call a government handout to “Big Wind” that gives wind an unfair advantage over fossil fuels.
“Where’s the gratitude from Big Wind?” said Patrick Creighton, spokesman for the Institute for Energy Research. “After a record year in taxpayer handouts, Big Wind now wants guaranteed market share through mandated use of their expensive, inefficient and unreliable power source?”
Creighton stressed that wind is an intermittent power source.
“You can install all the pinwheels you want,” Creighton said. “but if the wind doesn’t blow, electricity is not generated.”
Bode called that criticism unfair. She said every form of energy, starting with oil, has benefited from government support. The nuclear industry is insured by the federal government, and oil has had tax credits going back to 1920 and has a “series of exemptions from environmental rules,” she said.
“Each industry has been given long-term assurance by the government,” Bode said.