New Corporate Players Could Power Stronger Growth in Wind Energy
WASHINGTON, -- As the U.S. Senate continues consideration of national energy legislation, the American wind energy industry is poised to continue building on 2001 -- its most successful year in history -- and is the focus of growing interest by major players in the energy field, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
The industry is receiving a boost not only from the recent two-year extension of the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC), which was signed into law March 9, but from a series of announcements by utilities, oil companies, and other firms that they see wind energy in their future. Wind energy supporters are hopeful that with a further three-year extension of the PTC included in the Senate energy bill, the industry will at last have a stable financial environment and the serious corporate participation needed to put it on the road to steady long-term growth.
Among recent industry developments, AWEA said, are the following:
- AMERICAN ELECTRIC POWER (AEP), one of the nation's largest utilities,
spent $175 million in late December to buy the 160-megawatt (MW) Indian Mesa
wind plant in West Texas. Previously, AEP had invested $160 million to build
its own 150-MW wind farm at Trent Mesa, also in West Texas. Dwayne L. Hart,
senior vice president of business development for AEP subsidiary AEP Energy
Services, commented, "The addition of Indian Mesa furthers our goal of
enhancing the renewable portion of our overall generation portfolio." Ward
Marshall of AEP Energy Services is President-Elect of AWEA.
- BP and CHEVRONTEXACO announced in mid-January that they will build and
operate a 22.5-MW wind plant at their jointly-owned Nerefco oil refinery near
Rotterdam in The Netherlands. Bob Dudley, BP's group vice president, Gas and
Power and Renewables, said, "This project is an excellent opportunity in line
with BP's strategy to add value to our business, lower emissions, and
demonstrate our commitment to clean energy," while James Houck, ChevronTexaco
President Power and Gasification, said, "Wind power is an increasingly viable
source of power generation and this project fits with our objectives to manage
carbon emissions and invest in new technologies that minimize environmental
- ENTERGY, a major utility based in New Orleans, La., purchased a
majority interest in the 80-MW Top of Iowa wind farm from Houston, Tex.-based
Zilkha Renewable Energy and its partner, Midwest Renewable Energy Corp. Geoff
Roberts, president and CEO of Entergy's independent power development business
unit, commented on the transaction, "This project provides Entergy with an
attractive entry vehicle into the wind energy business."
- FPL ENERGY, a subsidiary of FPL Corp., which also owns the large
utility Florida Power & Light, announced January 7 that it had added 844 MW of
wind power to its power generation portfolio during 2001. The company,
America's largest wind plant operator, now operates 1,830 MW of wind, of which
it owns 1,439 MW. Dean Gosselin, FPL Energy vice president of wind
development, said, "We know there are many more opportunities for wind energy
throughout the country and great support in many regions for new wind power
- GE POWER SYSTEMS said in late February that it has signed an agreement
to purchase the manufacturing capability of Enron Wind Corp., the largest
U.S.-based utility-scale wind turbine manufacturer. "The acquisition of Enron
Wind represents GE Power Systems' initial investment into renewable wind
power, one of the fastest growing energy sectors," said John Rice, president
and CEO of GE Power Systems. GE Power Systems said it expects the wind
industry to grow at an annual rate of about 20%, with principal markets in
Europe, the U.S., and Latin America.
- PACIFICORP POWER MARKETING (PPM), affiliated with Pacificorp, a large
utility based in Portland, Ore., is playing a major role in building the
market for wind in the Northwest. The company is purchasing and marketing
power from three wind plants in the West, including the 261-MW Stateline
Project, and has said it plans to add substantial wind capacity to its
portfolio over the next few years. "This is wind power on a grand scale,"
said PPM president Terry Hudgens of Stateline, adding, "Stateline is a
watershed event for our company and for the region. With Stateline, wind is no
longer just a small niche in our supply, but has taken a position as a very
real and significant part of the new electric resources the region badly
- SHELL subsidiary Shell WindEnergy, Inc., announced in late January that
it had purchased an 80-MW wind plant near Amarillo, Tex. "We are delighted to
have moved so quickly in making a second major investment in the U.S. wind
power market," said David Jones, Director of Shell WindEnergy, Inc. "Wind
energy is not only the fastest-growing area of power generation worldwide but
it is also one of the cleanest sources of energy." Shell WindEnergy also owns
a 50-MW wind project in Wyoming, and Shell is developing or operating more
than 1,000 MW of wind in the U.S. and Europe.
- TXU, a large utility based in Dallas, Tex., announced in early January
that it plans to purchase a 40% equity stake in two wind farms under
construction in central Spain. TXU is already one of the largest U.S.
purchasers of wind-generated electricity, buying the output of several Texas
- UTILICORP UNITED, based in Kansas City, Mo., commissioned a 110-MW wind plant near Montezuma, Kans., in December. Commented Keith Stamm, president and chief operating officer of UtiliCorp's Global Networks Group, "This wind farm demonstrates UtiliCorp's commitment to providing its customers with renewable and reliable energy supplies ... While this is the first major wind power project in Kansas, the state has the potential to be a U.S. leader in wind energy."
AWEA, formed in 1974, is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. The association's membership includes turbine manufacturers, wind project developers, utilities, academicians, and interested individuals. More information on wind energy is available at the AWEA web site: http://www.awea.org .
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