As part of their anti-wind industry barrage, the Wall Street Journal editorial writers ask, what has America got to show for the wind production tax credit? It's a fair question.
A fair answer would begin with the fact that America got about 3.3% of its electricity in the first 9-months of 2012 from wind power. www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec7_5.pdf. After a record year in 2012 for building new wind generation (12,000 megawatts), wind will likely generate in 2013 close to 4.3% of America's power. And then reach the 5% milestone around the end of 2014 or 2015, thanks to the extension of the PTC that will enable another approximately 15,000 megawatts of new wind power to be built during 2013 to 2014.
What does 5% percent of America's power mean? It's enough power for about 22.5 million homes. It is the equivalent of about 26 nuclear power plants. And 5% of each day is 1 hour and 12 minutes.
As impressive as wind reaching the 5% mark is, the national number conceals regional differences. Wind power will provide minute levels of power in the Southeast but 10% or more of the electricity in ever more states.
Nearly 10 states right now would not be open for business without wind power. California, Texas, Iowa, South Dakota, Oregon are just a few states where wind generated electricity is already vital to keeping the lights on, power prices affordable, and reducing air pollution.
I can remember the snickers and eye-rolling in many forums, when the George W. Bush Administration established that it was the policy of the United States to get 20% of its electric power from wind. Around 2014-15 America will be one-quarter of the way to that goal!