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In last year’s fourth quarter alone, 8,380 MW were installed, making it the strongest quarter in U.S. wind power history. This was due in large part to impending expiration of the successful federal Production Tax Credit (PTC). It was slated to end on December 31, 2012, but was extended by Congress on January 1, 2013, as part of the “fiscal cliff package,” the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.


Gramlich added, “What is just as striking as the new records is the expansion of new customers. A total of 66 utilities bought or owned wind power in 2012, up from 42 in 2011. We are also seeing growth in new customers in the industrial and commercial sectors purchasing or owning wind energy directly.”


Red Hills Wind Farm near Elk City. Photo by Sondra Boykin/WFEC


New wind power purchasers last year included at least 18 industrial buyers, 11 schools and uni- versities, and eight towns or cities, showing a sig- nificant trend toward nontraditional power purchasers from the industrial sector. Manufacturers of everything from plastics to light bulbs, semiconductors, and badges, farms, and medical centers are now directly purchasing wind power.


“The fact that wind power grew by another 28 percent in 2012 alone and poured $25 billion of private investment into the U.S. last year demon- strates wind’s ability to scale up, and continue to serve as a leading source of energy in America,” Gramlich said.


America’s wind energy industry workers had been living under threat of the PTC’s expiration for over a year and layoffs had already begun, as companies idled factories because of a lack of or- ders for 2013. Uncertain federal policies have caused a “boom-bust” cycle in U.S. wind energy development for over a decade.


Half the American jobs in wind energy—37,000 out of 75,000—and hundreds of U.S. factories in the supply chain would have been at stake had the PTC been allowed to expire, according to a study by Navigant Consulting. “America’s wind energy industry is back on


track,” Gramlich said. “With a banner year to celebrate, we look forward to showing how wind power can continue to strengthen America’s energy future, and create jobs and business for our families and communities.”


MARCH 2013


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