Wind Power Showdown Looms
The American Wind Energy Association and its allies are pleading with Congress to prevent the Production Tax Credit from expiring this year.
- By Jerry Laws
- Nov 01, 2012
The looming expiration of the Production Tax Credit that supports renewable wind energy has customers and suppliers practically begging Congress to preserve it, but that wasn't the only thing on the Washington, D.C.-based American Wind Energy Association's agenda this fall. AWEA hosted OSHA personnel for a wind turbine rescue training course Sept. 11-13 as part of a national alliance between the two organizations, giving the trainees a first-of-its-kind inside look at the industry, AWEA CEO Denise Bode said.
Thirty-seven attendees were trained at the Suzlon training facility in Elgin, Ill., to climb a wind turbine's ladder, access a nacelle, and perform self-rescue. AWEA said trainers from Tech Safety Lines, UpWind Solutions, and Rope Partners assisted in the program.
"Trainees went through a rigorous, six-station course to practice all essential elements of a successful rescue operation," said Michele Mihelic, manager of labor health and safety policy at AWEA. "They learned how to operate a harness from a standing and suspended position, how to escape from inside a turbine tower and the top of a nacelle, how to deploy a fall arrest lanyard and rigging, and how to rescue incapacitated victims on a fixed ladder."
Seven other attendees visited the Grand Ridge Wind project in Marseilles, Ill., and all 44 heard presentations from wind energy company representatives. "AWEA and its members pride themselves on constant improvement, most importantly in the realm of worker safety and health," Bode said. "We are pleased to be able to provide OSHA with this first-of-its-kind inside look at a new and emerging industry, and we look forward to more such joint trainings in the future."
AWEA reported the industry's third quarter results on Oct. 18, announcing the domestic industry exceeded 50,000 megawatts (MW) of total installed electrical generation capacity -– enough to power 13 million homes -– in August 2012, with 4,728 MW of wind power added as of that date during 2012. AWEA announced another 8,430 MW is currently under construction, with more than 1,000 MW of that total in each of four states: Texas, California, Kansas, and Oklahoma. This brisk pace that is sure to slacken if the tax credit dies in 2012.
Preserving the credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of renewable power generated has been a top priority this year of AWEA members, the overall industry, and numerous large customers of renewable power. "This is what a successful policy looks like when it's working, but whether wind will continue to be a bright spot in the U.S. economy now depends on whether Congress acts to extend the Production Tax Credit by the end of the year," said Bode. "We have the bipartisan support to get the job done, but it is up to Congress to bring it to a vote or else lose 37,000 jobs by the first quarter of next year."
Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.