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At Fort Benning, Georgia, American wind power is helping the U.S. Army secure competitive, productive and well-paying careers for its veterans.  

Earlier this summer, the Fort Benning Career Skills Program launched a new course to help transition soldiers and veterans to jobs in wind energy and other renewable industries.  

In partnership with Airstream Renewables Inc., the 28-day Renewable Energy and Communications Tower Technician Program prepares students for entry-level positions in communication towers, wind energy and other alternative energy industries.  

“We started out transitioning civilians to Soldiers; now we want to transition these experienced Soldiers to be civilians again with good paying jobs,” said George Steuber, the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Benning deputy garrison commander. “We’re going to make sure that when you go on and you are done with your active-duty career that there is another career out there that is equally competitive and productive in the civilian economy.” 

And wind power is a good place to look for these careers– veterans find jobs in wind at a rate 72 percent higher than the average U.S. industry. Plus, there are plenty of wind jobs openings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind technician is the second fastest growing job in the country and is expected to grow as much as 108 percent by 2024. The wind industry currently supports more than 105,500 jobs across all 50 states.

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Veterans come to the wind industry with experience in teamwork, responsibility, discipline, technical skills, dexterity, and physical fitness. The men and women who have served our country are a significant reason why U.S. wind power has grown so successfully in recent years.  

The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has more information on wind energy education and workforce development. 

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Today, AWEA joins Fortune 500 companies, including automakers and electric utilities, consumer advocates, labor groups, and other organizations to sign the Transportation Electrification Accord. We couldn’t be more excited to join this diverse and growing list of companies and organizations working to evolve our transportation sector in a manner that not only provides economic and social benefits, but also recognizes renewable energy’s critical role in electrification across the country.

Launched in June, the Accord is a set of guiding principles for supporting transportation electrification in all its forms, from the family car to the school bus to the heavy-duty truck. The Accord’s principles highlight the benefits of accelerated deployment of electric vehicles (EV) and their charging infrastructure, as well as the need to support transportation electrification at the state and local government levels.

EV drivers are likely to be interested in the source of electricity powering their vehicles and many want it to come from renewable sources. Overall, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimates that energy-efficient electrification could increase U.S. electricity demand as much as 52 percent by 2050 from a 2015 baseline. Importantly, the Accord supports increased renewable energy integration to help ensure new demand is supplied by clean and cost-competitive forms of energy like wind and solar.

Wind power pairs especially well with transportation electrification, as EV charging tends to happen most often late at night, when wind generation is strong. Low-cost, clean electricity from wind farms already powers the equivalent of over 24 million American homes and, through electrification, homegrown wind energy could also power more of our electric cars and trucks.

It is possible to advance transportation electrification in a way that benefits all consumers and increases renewable energy additions at the same time. To be certain, that is what many customers are demanding. “We envision a world with zero emissions,” said Britta Gross, Director of General Motors Advanced Vehicle Commercialization Policy. “That’s the future and the Accord lays out the essential building blocks for a compelling energy infrastructure that we can all rely on for decades to come. Innovations in transportation electrification will benefit society as a whole – and cross-industry, multi-stakeholder cooperation is key.”

The guiding principles in the Accord are included below:

Transportation Electrification Accord Principles

  1. There is a clear case for electrifying transportation, which can provide benefits to all consumers (including the socioeconomically disadvantaged), advance economic development, create jobs, provide grid services, integrate more renewable energy, and cut air pollution and greenhouse gases.
  2. Electrified transportation should include, not only passenger cars, but also larger vehicles (e.g., transit buses and delivery trucks), as well as off-road equipment (e.g., airport and port electrification equipment).
  3. Accelerating an appropriate deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure based on market penetration projections along highway corridors, as well as throughout local cities and towns, is a critical element of electrifying transportation.
  4. It is critical to support electric transportation at the state and local government levels, whether it be through governors, state legislators, state commissions, state transportation agencies, state energy offices, mayors, or local governments.
  5. Electric utilities regulated by state and local commissions and boards, who serve the interests of the state and the public at large, have made substantial progress in accelerating the retirement of costly and less efficient fossil generation, and are poised to continue to make progress in promoting innovation, spurring greater grid efficiencies, and reducing harmful air pollution.
  6. Under appropriate rules, it is in the public interest to allow investor-owned and publicly-owned utilities to participate in and facilitate the deployment of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) and/or supporting infrastructure for residential and commercial applications in their service territories to accomplish state and local policy goals. The distribution grid is incorporating new grid-edge features such as advanced demand response and distributed energy storage. In that broader context, utilities are well positioned to ensure that installed EVSE, whether owned by utilities or other parties, maximizes the public benefits of these innovations, through appropriate integration of these technologies in order to maximize electrical system benefits for all classes of customers.
  7. The build out of EVSE must optimize charging patterns to improve system load shape, reduce local load pockets, facilitate the integration of renewable energy resources, and maximize grid value. Using a combination of time-based rates, smart charging and rate design, load management practices, demand response, and other innovative applications, EV loads should be managed in the interest of all electricity customers.
  8. To drive innovation and foster competition in the transportation electrification space, it is vital that open charging standards or protocols are adopted for both front-end and back-end interoperability. An open system also promotes greater transparency of vital data and information, which can be shared with a variety of innovative companies. The guidelines developed by the Open Charge Alliance (OCA) should be used as the baseline. Data developed by third parties from behind-the-meter devices should also be made available to utilities for use in planning system architecture and EVSE.
  9. Consumers and EV owners will benefit greatly from a smart, efficient, and open architecture throughout the EV infrastructure. Ensuring interoperability throughout the EV architecture means that consumers should be able to roam easily among the different networks, with a common identification and authentication process, with as little hassle as possible. In addition, key consumer protection principles should be adhered to for all deployed EVSE regardless of the EVSE owner, including transparent pricing and open access policies. Drivers who charge in a manner consistent with grid conditions should realize fuel cost savings. Mapping locations and signage of the stations should also be provided for all consumers.
  10. Utilities should proactively engage their regulators, consumers and all stakeholders in developing rate designs, infrastructure deployment programs, and education and outreach efforts that benefit all utility customers and allow reasonable cost recovery, while accelerating widespread transportation electrification that supports a reliable and robust grid.
  11. Best practices, standards and codes should be a priority for all transportation electrification infrastructure installations. As new open standards and more advanced security measures are developed, these should be implemented in a timely manner by all operators of EVSE. It is critical that industry participants continue to collaborate on consistent communication protocols between the vehicle, infrastructure and grid to ensure system safety, security and reliability.

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Energy markets are complex and evolving. They require a shared vision among power generators, transmission organizations and utilities for optimal success. AWEA is pleased to host a forum next week in Washington D.C. bringing together thought leaders and policy makers to discuss and debate the future of power markets.

The Future Power Market Summit 2018 program will focus on what needs to happen in the next 5 to 10 years to ensure we have a system that can reliably and efficiently serve customers. AWEA is joined by the American Council on Renewable Energy, the American Public Power Association, the Energy Systems Integration Group, the Large Public Power Council, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association in convening this important industry dialogue.

Highlights of the program for this unique summit include:

  • Keynote Speaker – Former FERC Chair, Pat Wood, III, will be the keynote speaker. Pat was instrumental in designing the highly successful Texas market as well as overseeing the designs of the other Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators.
  • Energy Markets Panel – This session will explore current energy market designs and how they need to evolve in the next 5 to 10 years to benefit customers and maintain reliability in the face of a changing resource mix.
  • Ancillary Services Panel – Many new technologies are entering the electric system and are able to provide many of the services needed to maintain a reliable and resilient electric grid. This panel will explore how those new technologies can contribute to ancillary services and how ancillary services regimes may need to evolve going forward.
  • Capacity Markets – Capacity markets have been the subject of constant debate for years. The regions with centralized capacity markets have seen almost constant tinkering with the design to keep pace with the changes grid. This panel will explore whether the current designs are even capable of adapting to the new reality being created by innovative technologies and a changing resource mix, or whether we need to rethink capacity markets as a whole.

Additional Summit Speakers and panelists include:

  • Jeff Bladen, Executive Director of Market Design, Midcontinent Independent System Operator
  • Brian Forshaw, Principal, Energy Market Advisors LLC
  • Beth Garza, Vice President, ERCOT Independent Market Monitor, Potomac Economics
  • Robin Hytowitz, Engineer, Electric Power Research Institute
  • Mark Ahlstrom, President, Energy Systems Integration Group
  • Jason Burwen, Vice President, Policy, Energy Storage Association
  • Emma Nicholson, Economist, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Sue Kelly, President & CEO, American Public Power Association
  • Susan Bruce, PJM Industrial Customer Coalition
  • Devin Hartman, Manager, Electricity Policy, R Street
  • Jay Morrison, Vice President, Regulatory Issues, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • James Wilson, Principal, Wilson Energy Economics

View the Full Agenda

As the energy industry plans for the 2020s, this summit aims to bring together the key voices to discuss how markets need to change over the next 10 years.

The early bird rate ends this Friday.  Register now!

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Right on the heels of the second-annual American Wind Week, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) released its latest Wind Technologies Market Report today.

The report confirms a bright future for American wind power, thanks to continuing cost declines resulting from improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technologies; increased demand from corporate wind energy purchases; and state-level renewable energy policies.

Developer and purchaser interest at an all-time high

LBNL reports a record level of wind power capacity entered interconnection queues in 2017, 81 gigawatts (GW) in total, exceeding the previous record of 67 GW reached in 2009. At the end of 2017, there were 180 GW of wind power capacity in the interconnection queues—a sizable increase from the 143 GW in the same queues just one year earlier and more than at any point since the end of 2011.

Wind capacity in the interconnection queues is spread across the United States, with larger amounts in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) (29 percent), Midwest (17 percent), ERCOT (17 percent), and Mountain region (14 percent). Smaller amounts are found in the PJM Interconnection (6 percent), Northwest (6 percent), ISO-New England (5 percent), New York ISO (4 percent), California (2 percent), and the Southeast (0.1 perent). The SPP, ERCOT, and Mountain regions experienced especially sizable annual additions in 2017.

Wind prices remain historically low, providing greater energy security

LBNL examined wind power purchase agreement (PPA) prices across the country, finding that the average levelized PPA price was $20 per megawatt hour (MWh) in 2017. That is a 66 percent price reduction since 2009, making wind the cheapest source of new electric generating capacity in many parts of the country. PPA prices have fallen across the country, varying by region, with the lowest prices found in the Interior, where LBNL reports recent PPAs have been signed for as low as $12.7/MWh.

That means more affordable, reliable, clean electricity for millions of American families and businesses.