In a GOP-Controlled House, Does the Wind Industry's Future Look Brighter?

Last Updated Nov 5, 2010 8:34 PM EDT

The American Wind Energy Association put on a good face Friday as it talked about the implications of the mid-term elections and the industry's most recent quarterly installation figures -- it's worst since 2007. At one point, AWEA CEO Denise Bode more than implied that a GOP-controlled House could be a good thing. Could it be that the U.S. wind industry sees a bright future with the Republicans?

In a way, it's not the craziest idea. Bode's thinking is that under a GOP-controlled House, a climate change bill that caps greenhouse gas emissions is dead. With that politically impossible issue out of the way, another, more bipartisan friendly policy -- say a renewable energy mandate -- could have an easier time getting congressional approval. Here's Bode's take during a live webcast Friday.
Now that cap and trade has been taken off the table, it is really good news for us because the RES (renewable energy standard) is the key technological solution to some of these carbon issues.
Of course, an industry's got to have priorities. And for both wind, solar and other renewable energy power industries, it's an extension of the 1603 tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of the year. The investment tax credit, as it's known, provides renewable energy developers upfront cash grants in lieu of tax credits for 30 percent of a project's building cost. Without it, many projects wouldn't be able to get underway.

And the U.S. wind industry, which has suffered from the lack of a long-term energy policy and a sluggish economy, will need either a government mandate, federal financial incentives or a suddenly rebounding economy, if to recover from this a slowdown in installations. The U.S. added 395 megawatts of wind-powered electric generating capacity in the third quarter, the lowest numbers since the first quarter of 2007, according to the AWEA.Year-to-date installations stood at 1,634 MW, down 72 percent versus 2009, and the lowest since 2006. Meanwhile, Europe installed twice as much and China installed three times more wind-powered electricity.

Photo from Flickr user zudark, CC 2.0
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