Wind Power Still Benefits Arkansas


Wind Power Still  Benefits Arkansas


In an article published July 20, Arkansas Business reported that the once-promising wind manufacturing sector in Arkansas has been largely victimized by a lack of policy stability at the federal level.

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The on-again, off-again nature of our federal policy on wind energy has certainly hurt some manufacturers that set up shop in our state. Nevertheless, wind energy is still a key market for many Arkansas manufacturing jobs, including North Little Rock’s LM Wind Power. While the state’s unlucky timing in launching its bid to become a wind component manufacturing hub hurt the prospects of large component manufacturers like Nordex and Mitsubishi, the growth of the wind power sector nationwide continues to benefit the Arkansas economy.

Wind power generation has continued to grow rapidly since Arkansas opened the doors on its first wind manufacturing facility seven years ago. In fact, today there are more than 500 wind component manufacturing facilities nationwide, and wind power now accounts for more than 67,000 megawatts of installed generation capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Today, on average more than 70 percent of wind turbine equipment installed in the U.S. was made by domestic manufacturers.

These developments do have a positive impact on Arkansas. In addition to LM Wind Power, Arkansas has several steel fabrication companies, wire and cable manufacturers and bearing manufacturers that are part of the growing wind supply chain. These companies are located throughout our state, including in northeast, northwest and central Arkansas.

They employ hundreds of Arkansans and pay competitive wages and benefits.

Earlier this year, Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission operator headquartered in Little Rock, reported that a record 36 percent of its power on April 6 was generated from wind energy farms in Oklahoma and Kansas, and the National Renewable Energy Lab found that installed wind could soon provide between 24 and 50 percent of our electricity nationwide.

In addition, Arkansas consumers are benefiting from the low cost of wind. The Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. has now accumulated power purchase agreements for a total of 309 MW of wind power for rural electric customers in the state, and the public utility AEP-Swepco has invested in nearly 470 MW of wind for its customers in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. Also, the Plains & Eastern Clean Line wind transmission project currently in development will deliver 500 MW of Oklahoma wind power to Arkansas.

Recently, the Energy Information Administration determined that American wind power is the most cost-effective way to address the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan, a rule to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. Because of previous investments in wind manufacturing, competitive wind power in neighboring states and investment in our transmission infrastructure, Arkansas is well-positioned to take full advantage of the cost savings and job creation opportunities resulting from continued expansion of wind energy generation.

Steve Patterson
Executive Director
Arkansas Advanced Energy Association