MISO, the regional grid operator for 11 states in the upper Midwest and part of Canada, just announced that it reached a new record wind peak output of 10,012 megawatts last week, adding up to more than 25 percent of the system’s energy use. Word of the milestone comes as a group of veterans travels to Washing today. The group will petition Congress to keep the wind industry humming along, by extending the federal production tax credit for wind power.
Rapid Growth in Wind Power
It seems like only yesterday (because it was) that sister site CleanTechnica discussed a new report that shows how closely the growth of the wind industry follows periods in which the federal wind tax credit has been extended.
MISO’s experience with wind power is a case in point. The grid operator, which handles all or part of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio and Manitoba, was first authorized in 2001. At the time, wind power was not part of the picture.
The tax credit was allowed to expire in 2003 but it was back on again several months after that, and by 2006 it was entering a period of relative stability.
Coincidently or not, after 2006, the wind industry really took off, and that was the year that MISO first began introducing wind power to its grid.
Doing a bit of math here, that means in only six years a significant chunk of the nation’s electricity grid rolled over into wind power, and there is plenty more where that came from.
MISO alone manages about 11,000 MW of installed wind capacity, and it is on track to add 7,000 MW more in new interconnection projects.
Also, on a national level wind power accounted for a good one-third of new capacity added to the grid last year.
Veterans for Wind Power
We’ve talked previously about the connection between today’s military veterans and wind power careers. A national security advocacy organization called The Truman Project sent a group to Congress last month to argue for extending the wind tax credit and in today’s press conference they hopeto hammer the argument home.
The bipartisan press conference includes Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), Representative Jerry McNerney (D-CA), and Representative Steve King (R-IA) along with military veterans, many of whom are employed in the wind industry.
Republican governors also joined with Democrats in last month’s press conference supporting the wind tax credit, which included Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.
The argument is a simple one, according to the Truman Project:
“The Wind PTC is due to expire at the end of this year unless Congress votes to renew it. The wind PTC supports thousands of good-paying, middle-class jobs throughout the country. Americans of all stripes, including veterans, have benefited from the job opportunities and growth created by the wind energy industry.”
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Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.