Let’s face it: This year has been as bad as predicted. Research firm SNL Energy recently noted that the 42.7 MW unit of Pattern Energy’s 265 MW Ocotillo Wind Farm was the only wind capacity to come online in the third quarter. That paltry sum comes on the heels of just a single 1.6 MW being installed for the entire first half.
Despite the meager totals, there are numerous signs of encouragement and optimism that bode well for next year and beyond. In that same SNL report, the firm noted that more than 7.5 GW is currently under construction or in advanced stages of development. Citing the extension of the federal production tax credit, many utilities plan to expand their wind portfolios by building their own projects or through power purchase agreements. In fact, the American Wind Energy Association says contracts in excess of 7.5 GW have been signed this year, which bodes well for 2014.
For example, MidAmerican Energy Co. says it wants to invest $1.9 billion to add up to 1.05 GW of wind generation in Iowa by year-end 2015. And combining the proposals in Xcel Energy’s Colorado and Texas/New Mexico service areas, the utility has proposed a total of 1.9 GW of wind resources this year – a 40% increase in company-wide wind capacity.
As a further sign of encouragement, the U.S. offshore wind industry has begun to demonstrate that the first generation of offshore wind projects is moving closer to construction.
Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, recently confirmed that he expects construction to begin next year at the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm, located off the coast of Block Island, R.I. “We see a clear path to finalizing the contracts to start building the project.”
Hopefully, the recent spate of good news will begin to reverberate across the wind industry. Only time will tell, however, if this recent spate of agreements and contracts will satiate vendors and suppliers after a disappointing 18 months.
Lastly, NAW readers will note this issue includes more color and design improvements that were made to increase the magazine’s readability and general appearance as it celebrates its 10-year anniversary. Hopefully, such an achievement provides optimism for the wind industry and plenty of reasons for our gratitude.