Washington, D.C. Jan. 20 —In his State of the Union speech tonight, President Obama highlighted U.S. wind energy leadership as an American success story.
“As the President noted, America produces more wind energy than any other country in the world. We’re number one,” said American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan. “Hard working Americans and successful federal tax policy helped accomplish this. By providing a long-term, stable policy, we can retain our number one position, keep well-paying jobs and invest in American communities.”
AWEA released data confirming that the U.S. produces significantly more wind energy than China, Spain and Germany. This is because U.S. wind turbines are nearly twice as productive as those in China and Germany.
“America is blessed with excellent wind resources,” said Kiernan. “The U.S. invented utility-scale wind farms, and by investing in them here in the U.S., we now have some of the best infrastructure this country has ever built.”
Iowa is helping the nation achieve this global leadership position by leading the U.S. in the percentage of electricity the state generates from wind power.
With newly elected Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) expected to provide the official Republican response to the State of the Union, American wind power is one of the few things Senator Ernst and President Obama agree on.
Iowa has smartly invested in cultivating its abundant wind resources, and now leads the U.S. by producing 27 percent of its electricity from wind power. The wind industry has brought $10 billion in capital investment, up to 4,000 well-paying jobs and over $15 million a year in landowner payments to Iowa.
“Iowa’s great success in wind energy has been due to great, and consistent, bipartisan leadership at the federal level and in Iowa,” said Iowa Wind Energy Association Executive Director Mike Prior. “It is my hope that Senator Ernst continues in the footsteps of one of Iowa’s great leaders, Senator Grassley, by strongly supporting wind energy.”
Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is considered to many as the “father” of the primary federal incentive for wind investment in the U.S., the Production Tax Credit (PTC).
Late last year, the PTC was extended for only two weeks before expiring again on December 31. That uncertainty is harmful for business, and puts 50,000 U.S. wind industry jobs, with 500 manufacturing facilities in 43 states and an annual average investment of over $17 billion, at risk.
“By continuing to lead the world with the most productive wind farms, we can also create a more balanced U.S. energy portfolio,” said Kiernan. “But we need that policy certainty, that tax relief, for a level playing field while all other mainstream sources of electricity receive federal support. Letting the PTC fall off a cliff isn’t reasonable or responsible policy.”
President Obama also mentioned wanting an effective policy to combat climate change. “According to the President, the U.S. is in the market for climate solutions,” said Kiernan. “With wind energy being one of the biggest, fastest, cheapest ways to reduce carbon emissions, we have a great solution to offer.”
Wind power will be a key tool for states to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) first-ever proposed rule to reduce carbon pollution at existing power plants while maintaining an affordable, reliable energy system. In 2013, wind reduced carbon pollution by 127 million short tons, 5 percent of total electric sector emissions or the equivalent of taking 20 million cars off the road.
More wind energy was under construction this past year than ever before in America. According to the Wind Vision, a new Department of Energy report due for release in early 2015, wind could double from today’s amount to supply 10 percent of the nation’s electricity demand by 2020, 20 percent by 2030 and 35 percent by 2050.
Wind power’s costs have dropped more than 50 percent over the past five years, thanks to the productivity and innovation that are driven by performance-based incentives like the renewable energy Production Tax Credit.