Video: AWEA’s Tom Kiernan, Vestas’ Chris Brown, Xcel’s Ben Fowke Discuss 2016 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report

Today, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released its U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2016. A few key takeaways from the report include: “record wind jobs,” “generation records set,” “corporations and utilities want wind,” “wind benefits every state,” “wind reduces emissions and saves water” and much more.

See below for video from a press conference discussing the report, held this morning in St. Paul, Minnesota. Speakers include AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan, Vestas Americas President Chris Brown and Xcel CEO Ben Fowke.  Highlights from the press conference include the following points.

  • According to Tom Kiernan, in the upper Midwest, wind costs were down in 2016, productivity and jobs growth up. Today, around 26% of all electricity in the upper Midwest is produced by wind power — “and that number will be growing.”
  • Wind is “affordable” and “reliable,” with “significant benefits in rural America.”
  • In 2016, the wind industry nationally added over 14,000 jobs (reaching more than 100,000 jobs, with a forecast of 147,000 jobs by 2020), including 4,000 more manufacturing jobs (reaching 25,000 manufacturing jobs).  Overall, the wind industry is hiring at a rate nine times faster than the national average.
  • Around 8,200 megawatts (MW) of wind power were added to the grid in the U.S. in 2016, for a total of 82,000 MW total wind power in the U.S.
  • The wind power industry is highly innovative, with 50% more productive wind turbines in 2016 compared to 2009 and a levelized cost of energy one-third the 2009 level.
  • The wind power industry is calling for a level playing field between all power sources.
  • “99% of all wind farms are in rural America…the wind industry provides $245 million a year to the farmers and ranchers on whose property we’re leasing the land for wind turbines…it is a drought-resistant cash crop” for farmers and ranchers.
  • According to Chris Brown, “wind turbine technicians are actually the fastest-growing employment sector in the U.S.”
  • Vestas is hiring veterans “at a 50% higher rate than any other category.”
  • The wind industry is bringing American jobs back and helping to revitalize the failing U.S. manufacturing base.
  • “One [wind] turbine creates 44 jobs” up and down the supply chain; including 25,000 manufacturing jobs and 5,000 factories.
  • The U.S. wind industry is a major driver of economic growth in all 50 states.
  • “Wind is a no brainer” and “wind is on sale.”
  • “Connecting more Americans to cheap wind power will strengthen the nation’s all-of-the-above energy independence, deliver billions of dollars into American communities, and most of all it will deliver more wind-powered American jobs.”
  • According to Ben Fowke, 19% of Xcel’s energy comes from the wind. This has resulted in a reduction in Xcel’s carbon emissions by 30% since 2005.
  • Xcel plans to add 11 wind farms in eight states totaling 3,400 MW of wind power. That will increase Xcel’s share of wind power to 35% by 2021 and result in more carbon emissions reductions.
  • The technological improvements in wind power over the past ten years have been “nothing but phenomenal.” Today, there’s a “unique opportunity to bring wind on that is cheaper as an energy source than fossil alternatives, both natural gas and coal.”
  • With wind power, Xcel’s customers will save “billions of dollars over traditional fuel sources.”
  • With “the right policy framework, the right support and the right goal alignment, you can deeply decarbonize…and keep rates flat…and not sacrifice reliability.”
  • Wind power, “the fuel of tomorrow, is on sale today.”

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