The American Wind Energy Association welcomed the announcement from the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Energy, about the Administration has begun issuing renewable energy grants under a program approved by Congress in the economic recovery package earlier this year. The announcement included grants of nearly $500 million for 10 wind power projects in Maine, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.
“For these grantees and many other projects that are preparing their applications, we are seeing business activity picking up and turbine and parts orders being sent all the way up the value chain,” commented AWEA Senior Vice President for Public Policy Rob Gramlich, adding, “That activity had all but dried up and it is very encouraging to see this turnaround underway. Time will tell if that market signal is strong enough to keep the 85,000 people working in the wind industry employed for the next couple of years.”
The grants intend to temporarily replace the production tax credit that has been a major factor in the continued growth in wind and other renewable energy projects. The recession and the halt in the credit markets that began late last year rendered the PTC much less useful as an investment incentive.
The U.S. wind industry summed up for 42 percent of new electricity generation plants installed nationwide in 2008, and created 35,000 jobs that year, thus boosting the number of people employed in wind power to 85,000.
Figures for 2009 have shown a slowdown in new wind projects due to economic conditions. In addition to the grants, AWEA has been advocating for a keen national renewable electricity standard (RES) as a way to send a clear signal to financial markets about the U.S. commitment to renewable energy.