Despite the recent increases, renewable energy generation remains a long way behind coal and natural gas, the main generating fuels. Coal and natural gas each provided about one-third of the country’s electricity generation, according to the latest monthly figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Renewable energy, including wind and solar, provided about 6 percent.
Congress extended a key incentive for the wind industry as part of the negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff” earlier this month. The production tax credit, which offers developers a 2.2 cent per kilowatt hour credit, now is set to expire Dec. 31.
The new version includes a provision to have wind developments “begin construction” by the year’s end. The Internal Revenue Service is working on rules that would define that term, since it could mean anything from building a service road to erecting a tower.
“We hope that will be done relatively quickly,” Gramlich said in a conference call with reporters. “Some companies are waiting to see what the rules will say before they make very large commitments on projects.”
Apex Wind Energy Inc., which developed and built the Canadian Hills wind farm, plans to begin construction on another wind farm in Canadian and Kingfisher counties this year. The development, called the Kingfisher wind farm, would include 120 wind turbines and provide up to 300 megawatts of generation.