NewEnergyNews: AWEA’S WETSTONE SPREADS THE WORD AND THE WORD IS WIND

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    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    AWEA’S WETSTONE SPREADS THE WORD AND THE WORD IS WIND

    Gregory Wetstone, who has led the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) through wind energy’s greatest year of growth, describing his tenure: "Nonstop action…"

    As the House takes up a new energy bill which would provide and extend incentives for New Energy, Wetstone points to the Production Tax Credit (PTC) as the most important incentive for the wind energy industry. The current PTC will expire at the end of the year. Wetstone says a long term extension would provide stability and growth in the wind energy industry. The House bill extends it 3 years.

    The PTC allows an income tax credit of two cents/kilowatt hour for wind energy-generated electricity. Since it was first instituted, Congress allowed it to expire 3 times. Each time, wind energy development fell precipitously, slowing the building of the New Energy infrastructure of the future.

    The House bill is expected to hit a wall when it arrives in the Senate. Without Senate approval, the House’s bill cannot become law. The New Energy incentives missed Senatorial approval by 1 vote both in December 2007 and February 2008.

    Wetstone and wind energy advocates are using every bit of leverage they can muster to sway swing Senators. They are flirting with the media, buying up advertising and creating email campaigns. AWEA is planning a lobbying day on Capitol Hill in early March when it will talk up the PTC and 2 longer term industry priorities: (1) A national Renewable Energy Standard (RES) that would require U.S. utilities to obtain a specific percentage of their electricity from New Energy sources by a date certain, and (2) a role for wind energy in the coming climate change legislation.

    The growth of the wind energy industry has brought the cost of electricity generated by wind to parity with traditional sources in some markets and very near parity in most others. And climate change legislation is coming. Even the most recalcitrant, anti-wind Senators know it is coming. It will impose a cost on emissions, which means emissions-free energy like wind will instantly become even more cost competitive. Which is why Wetstone had his troops at a National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners meeting February 20 handing out fact sheets, flyers and lollipops with wrappers that read: "I love wind power."

    Join with AWEA:
    POWER OF WIND

    Wind energy growth is a national phenomenon. Wetstone and AWEA are determined to prevent a few recalcitrant Senators from obstructing it. (click to enlarge)

    Wind Winds Up
    Andrew T. Gillies, February 21, 2008 (Forbes)

    WHO
    Gregory Wetstone, executive director, American Wind Energy Association

    WHAT
    Wetstone predicts the energy bill, with its variety of generous New Energy incentives funded through budget reductions to Old Energy subsidies and tax breaks, will breeze through the House of Representatives only to meet daunting opposition in the Senate.


    AWEA and the wind energy industry have a lot going for them. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - The House bill is expected to bypass the committee process and come to the floor February 27 or thereabout.
    - The House passed a very similar measure in July 2007. The Senate rejected the New Energy provisions and associated financing in December 2007. The Senate also rejected provisions for New Energy incentives when it passed the economic stimulus package in mid-February.
    - The wind energy PTC was first enacted in 1992. It expired in 1999, 2001 and 2003. Wind energy developed dropped dramatically in 2000, 2002 and 2004.
    - The current PTC expires at the end of 2008.

    WHERE
    Wetstone previously worked as a congressional staffer and with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    WHY
    - Wind energy grew 45% in 2007.
    - AWEA has added 109 organizations to its membership in 2008. Total membership is now 1200 organizations.
    - AWEA’s staff grew from 15 to 50 in the last 5 years.
    - AWEA’s annual budget: $15 million. For comparison: American Gas Association (natural gas) - $24.3; American Petroleum Institute - $146 million.
    - AWEA’s leverage: A media friendly to New Energy, a public friendly to New Energy and everything “green” and the fact that the wind energy industry creates jobs and wealth.

    Another advantage of wind energy. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Wetstone, AWEA: "It's a tough time these days to get legislation through…"
    - Wetstone, on advocacy: "Others may have bigger budgets…but there are things we have going for us that you can't buy."
    - Jan Shori, general manager, Sacramento Municipal Utility District ( sixth biggest community-owned U.S. electric utility): "If we end up by 2050 needing to reduce carbon dioxide by 80% from where we were in 1990…then a transformation of the industry is necessary."

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