The amount of new generating capacity added to the U.S. power grid plummeted 71% in the first half of 2010, compared to a year earlier, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The drop is explained in large part by mass reductions in financial support from government programs.
With 700 megawatts (MW) of new installed capacity in the second quarter alone, the wind industry has installed a total of 1,239 MW in 2010. That number, however, is far below the total from 2009 and 57% below that of 2008.
It is dismal and getting worse, said AWEA CEO Denise Bode, who added that the U.S. has now fallen behind the European Union and China in new wind installations.
We continue to see a drop in new manufacturing activity, she said. This is tied, in part, to the legislative wrangling currently taking place in Congress. Democrats will soon be introducing an energy bill proposal, but one that is severely scaled back and will not include a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) mandating that utilities obtain a set percentage of their power from renewable sources over the next decade.
Without that standard, said Bode, the wind industry has no long-term market for manufacturers and developers to produce product for. We are going to see jobs lost, she said.
For now, there is over 5,000 MW of new wind power capacity currently under construction, but it is largely the result of Recovery Act funding still in place through the end of 2010. Beyond that, there is a precipitous decline in projects in the pipeline.
Manufacturing facilities will go idle and lay off workers if Congress doesnt act now, before time runs out this session, said Bode.