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News from AWEA: 2005 Expected to Break Wind Energy Installation Records

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  • Tom Gray
    American Wind Energy Association www.awea.org FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 28, 2004 CONTACT: Kathy Belyeu (202) 383-2520 Christine Real de Azua (202)
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 29, 2004
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      American Wind Energy Association
      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 28, 2004
      CONTACT: Kathy Belyeu (202) 383-2520
      Christine Real de Azua (202) 383-2508


      New wave of projects brings clean energy, investment, jobs to rural

      With the extension of the federal wind energy production tax credit in
      September, capacity installations in 2005 look likely to beat all
      previous records, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today
      in its quarterly U.S. market outlook. The previous high for new wind
      power capacity installations in one year was 1,696 megawatts (MW) in
      2001. Most industry participants agree that 2005 will be a better year,
      with some predicting installations to exceed 2,500 MW.

      Conditions are right for next year to be a record-breaking year, said
      AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. "We will see what the U.S.
      industry can do at a full-speed run for the next fourteen months. As
      natural gas prices continue to demonstrate volatility, and coal prices
      are increasing as well, wind power looks more attractive as a way to
      diversify a utilitys supply portfolio."

      The slow-down in installations in 2004 that resulted from the
      expiration of the production tax credit (PTC) means that many projects
      that have been in the development pipeline are now ready to move forward
      quickly. Wind power project developers and wind turbine and component
      manufacturers are now racing to lock up supply contracts for the coming

      At the same time, rising and volatile natural gas prices make wind
      energy attractive in terms of the long-term stable energy price that the
      technology can offer. Once a plant is built, it requires no fuel and
      produces no harmful emissions. According to the Energy Information
      Administration, in the best wind resource areas such as the plains
      states and the upper Midwest, wind energy is the lowest-cost new
      electricity resource (with the PTC in place) when natural gas prices
      rise above about $3.50 per thousand cubic feet. On the New York
      Mercantile Exchange, natural gas prices topped $7 per thousand cubic
      feet in October, and most experts expect it to continue in the range of
      $5 for the foreseeable future.

      The more wind energy capacity is installed, the more it will help to
      reduce the current natural gas supply shortage in the U.S., according to
      AWEA. The increasing use of natural gas to power electric generating
      plants is preventing the nation from building up its storage levels
      during the summer. But in many areas of the country where wind farms are
      generating electricity, they are directly helping to conserve vital
      natural gas supplies.

      "We estimate that the wind farms already in place, and those that will
      be installed by the end of 2005, will be saving over 0.5 billion cubic
      feet (Bcf) of natural gas per day in 2006," said Swisher. "Using
      conservative growth estimates of 3,000 MW installed every two years for
      the next four years, the U.S. could top 15,000 MW of installed wind
      power capacity by the end of 2009, which would save nearly 0.9 Bcf/day
      by the end of this decade." [A graph of natural gas estimated to be
      saved by wind generation is in the attached Word release]

      Because the tax credit was extended relatively late in the year, AWEA
      expects the U.S. to install approximately 480 MW of new capacity in
      2004, well above its previous estimate of 350 MW but far below previous
      strong years such as 2001 (1,696 MW) and 2003 (1,687 MW). The full list
      of expected installations throughout the year is attached.

      If installed wind power capacity were to consistently expand at a rate
      of 18% per year, AWEA said, six percent of the nation's electricity
      could be generated by wind power by the year 2020, resulting in over
      $100 billion of investment, in addition to saving millions of cubic feet
      of natural gas. AWEA is continuing to pursue policies - such as a
      long-term PTC extension and federal and state renewables portfolio
      standards (RPS) - that will move the wind industry beyond the
      boom-and-bust cycles that have resulted from short-term PTC extensions
      in the past.

      AWEA, formed in 1974, is the national trade association of the U.S.
      wind energy industry. The associations membership includes turbine
      manufacturers, wind project developers, utilities, academicians, and
      interested individuals. More information on wind energy is available at
      the AWEA web site: www.awea.org .
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