Bode Takes Reins at AWCA

The financial crisis and economic downturn are buffeting the wind industry.
Although the industry has been buoyed by a strong strategic position and the prospect of policy support from Congress and President-elect Barack Obama, wind has to overcome a weakening economy.
However, there is some excitement at the advocacy group American Wind Energy Association because an Oklahoman, Denise Bode, took the helm this month.
Bode stepped in as the new CEO for the AWEA Jan. 5, succeeding Randall Swisher, who retired in 2008 after a 19-year stint with the association.
Bode’s experience in the energy field is extensive. She’s recognized as an energy policy expert and more than capable executive.
Bode led the Independent Petroleum Association seven years through the 1990s and served for nine years on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission prior to joining American Clean Skies. Besides her time as the American Clean Skies Foundation CEO and president of the IPAA, she served nine years on the staff of then U.S. Senator David Boren as his legal counsel, focusing on the areas of energy and taxation.
Bode takes over at an exceptional time for the industry and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on energy issues to AWEA.
Wind has become cutting-edge, she said.
“Wind is growing by leaps and bounds in the U.S.,” Bode said.
New wind projects account for 35 percent of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally in 2007, Bode said. The U.S. is the world leader in wind electricity generation. While Germany still has more generating capacity installed (about 23,000 megawatts), the U.S. is producing more electricity from wind because of its much stronger winds.
Oklahoma has 689 MW of wind power capacity operating in its borders, which can generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 190,000 homes. As of November, about 140 MW of wind power were under construction in the state.
Oklahoma utilities are looking to dramatically increase the amount of wind power that they purchase.
Public Service Company of Oklahoma is looking to purchase output from 200 MW of wind by 2010.
OG&E has filed a plan with the Corporation Commission committing an additional 600 MW of wind by 2012, along with the transmission capacity necessary to deliver the power to consumers.
Nationwide, the wind energy industry continued new installations at a breakneck pace in the third quarter of 2008, putting more than 1,300 MW of new wind capacity in place. That brings the total installed capacity to 21,017 MW in 35 states. Another 8,000 MW are under construction.
Although the industry has encountered an economic head wind in the last seven months, slowing growth as a lack of financing delays projects. In the Tulsa area, about 130 workers at Trinity Structural lost their jobs in December, and DMI recently announced 50 layoffs at its Catoosa plant.
Bode admits there is some slowing in the economy, but she says that 50 projects are planned across the U.S. over the next five to six years, along with the addition of 60,000 jobs.
“Everyone is pausing. Every sector is slowing down. But the trend is expansion,” she said. “The entire economy is pausing, but we see wind continuing to grow. There is a tremendous political and public support for wind.”
Hope runs high for greater federal policy stability as the President-elect outlines a range of policies encouraging investments in wind and renewable energy. These policies are expected to be on the table for serious discussion and possible early action in his first 100 days. The policies would signal a shift for renewable energy technologies, whose deployment has been hampered by the absence of long-term policy stability.
Bode comes from the oil and natural gas sector which continues to battle crippling tax laws and environmental extremist policy. It has made her a more than capable advocate with the political clout and connections to be an effective advocate.
She is an able individual available to lead the AWEA at a time when renewable energy stands on the threshold of expanding.

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