Over the past 12 months, two states — including Iowa, where Republicans will cast the first votes of the 2012 presidential campaign — saw 20% of their electricity generated from wind and dozens of lawmakers from both parties signaled support for extending a key tax credit set to expire at the end of next year.
Those were among the 2011 achievements of 2011 that the American Wind Energy Association, the industry's main trade group, identified in a year-end top-10 list released Tuesday.
Topping the list was Iowa and South Dakota reaching the "important milestone" of 20% of electricity coming from wind, a first for the US. The group also singled out California's performance this year, for boosting its renewable portfolio standard to 33% by 2020.
AWEA also highlighted wind's performance in Texas, where the Electric Reliability Council of Texas praised wind farms for preventing blackouts when more than 7,000 MW of traditional power plants unexpectedly went offline during a winter cold snap.
AWEA also highlighted the performance of Xcel Energy subsidiary Public Service Co. of Colorado, which on October 6 generated 55.6% of the electricity on its system at one time from wind power.
Extending the 2.2 cent/kWh production tax credit past its December 31, 2012, expiration date has been a top priority for the wind industry, with some companies saying uncertainty over the credit's fate has already led layoffs and cancelled projects.
While AWEA lamented the failure to get an extension passed this year, it struck an optimistic note about the PTC's future, pointing to bipartisan legislation introduced in the House of Representatives to extend the credit for four years. The bill, from Washington Republican Dave Reichert and Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer, has 45 cosponsors, including 11 Republicans.
"The year is wrapping without the all-important extension of the federal Production Tax Credit, wind power's primary policy driver, which expires at the end of 2012," AWEA said. "But the PTC movement gathered momentum heading into next year."