A report by the American Wind Energy Association claims in 2019, wind was the top choice for new electricity generation capacity all across America. According to AWEA’s latest Wind Industry Markets Report, 9.1 gigawatts of new wind generating capacity were added in the US last year, which represents 39% of all new utility-scale power additions. The total installed wind capacity is now 105 GW — enough to power 32 million American homes. In addition, wind energy is now the largest provider of renewable energy in the country, supplying over 7% of the nation’s electricity in 2019.
“US wind power has grown significantly over the past decade, as consumers across the country increasingly turn to wind to provide affordable, reliable, and clean electricity for their communities,” says AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “Years of hard work culminated with wind power becoming America’s largest renewable energy provider in 2019, with a 50-state footprint of job creation and economic development. Wind’s near-record project pipeline indicates this growth will continue for years to come. While we are now working to mitigate the significant disruptions from COVID-19, we know that we will meet these challenges with strong industry momentum.”
Renewable Energy Magazine reports that Texas and Iowa led the country in wind power additions, with both installing record amounts of wind power for a single year. South Dakota had the largest percentage growth in 2019. It installed 506 MW of new wind resources in 2019, increasing its installed wind capacity by over 50%.
Wind Power = Jobs
The AWEA report says the US wind energy industry has created 120,000 American jobs. 26,000 have found work in the 530 US factories in 43 states that build components for wind turbines. In addition, the industry contributes $1.6 billion a year in revenue to states and communities that host wind farms — many in rural areas. It is second among all industries in creating new jobs, with military veterans benefiting most. American vets find wind related jobs at a rate more than 60% higher than the average in US industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Helping The Environment
AWEA reports wind energy reduced US carbon dioxide emissions by 198 million metric tons in 2019 — equivalent to removing 42 million cars from the nation’s roads. Wind projects also saved 103 billion gallons of water last year and reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 232,000 metric tons and nitrogen oxide emissions by 168,000 metric tons.
“Communities across the nation, especially rural communities, are experiencing first-hand the economic benefits that wind power delivers,” AWEA’s Kiernan adds. “The wind industry’s rapid and continued growth has meant more family-sustaining jobs, more local manufacturing, more opportunities for veterans, and more support for farming communities, all while providing reliable, low cost, and zero carbon electricity for millions of Americans.”
Corporations Lead The Way
Private industry accounted for 40% of the power purchase agreements signed in 2019, with Walmart and AT&T being the largest wind customers of the year. “Iconic US companies are joining utilities in turning to wind energy to help drive their business goals and corporate social responsibility commitments forward,” Kiernan says.
“Wind power provides long term price stability, allowing companies to invest in their future, without worrying about the price they might have to pay for electricity. Many companies are also drawn to wind’s zero carbon and zero water attributes, which help them achieve their sustainability goals. And wind remains good for their bottom lines, since it’s the lowest cost source of electricity in many parts of the country.”
The Pandemic Panic
AWEA projects the impact of the coronavirus could put 25 GW of wind projects — worth up to $35 billion — at risk. The potential losses include $8 billion to rural communities in the form of state and local tax payments and land-lease payments to private landowners. In all, 35,000 jobs are at risk, jobs that may affect local communities most of all.
“Affordable, reliable energy is not a luxury — it’s a necessity,” Kiernan says. “It provides the foundation and powers the infrastructure of our great country, ensuring its operations and functionality can continue without interruption on the road to recovery, and the wind energy workforce is working hard to keep the lights on during this trying time.”
To date, Congress and the president are offering billions of dollars to coal, oil, and gas companies, but not 10 cents to support renewables. Why? Because Republicans are owned lock, stock, and barrel by the fossil fuel industry and will do whatever it takes to keep the campaign donations flowing.
If that strikes you as very much like a criminal enterprise, you’re not wrong. There’s only one way to correct the situation — vote the bastards out of office. Your chance to do so is coming very soon.
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