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Potential Wind Tariffs Raise Questions For Expected Industry Growth

Seven Mile Hill Wind Farm in Carbon County
Cooper McKim

Wind power expansion in our region could soon face a new challenge. The International Trade Commission is considering a tariff on wind turbines. Domestic manufacturers argue several countries are selling turbines below fair prices, undercutting the U.S. industry.

According to energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, 2019 and 2020 expect the largest growth in U.S. wind capacity ever. It would grow installed capacity from 97 gigawatts (GW) to 121 (GW).

Dan Shreve, head of Wood Mackenzie's global wind research practice, said tariffs would hamper expected growth in the U.S.

"The ability of domestic power production is not such that they can actually even support that level by themselves. So, as a consequence, you're going to have to import [turbines] no matter what," Shreve said.

He said that would just increase the cost of projects. Timothy Fox, ClearView Energy Partners Vice President of research, found capital expenses could increase by five to 10 percent at a minimum. That's because about 84 percent worth of wind components currently come from the four targeted countries: Korea, Canada, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Shreve said that cost increase would be enough to end projects with a thin profit margin. Given the potential tariffs aren't fleshed out, Shreve said it's not yet clear who would incur the cost.

Wyoming is among seven states in the country set to double their wind capacity in the near-term.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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