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Q3 Report: Rebounding U.S. Wind Industry Stays Ahead of Sluggish 2010

According to a report released this week, the U.S. wind industry installed more than 1,200 megawatts (MW) in the third quarter of 2011 as the industry continues to benefit from the federal Production Tax Credit.

The American Wind Energy Association’s quarterly report shows a significant jump in installations over the same period last year, when 671 MW were added in the third quarter. The 2011 third quarter installation numbers, though, remain below those from 2008 and 2009.

The U.S. wind industry now has 3,360 MW installed so far this year, and there are more than 8,400 MW under construction. The year-to-date installation numbers in megawatts is 75 percent higher than at the same point last year.

The recent figures, says AWEA, indicate that 2011 will finish somewhere between the industry’s high point of 2009 and the recent dip in 2010 that came amid turmoil in federal tax policy.

In a written statement, AWEA CEO Denise Bode, said policy uncertainty has many developers wary of scheduling projects for 2013, which is starting to threaten the U.S. wind energy supply chain.

“We could lose all these consumer benefits and a brand new, growing manufacturing sector if Congress allows the Production Tax Credit to expire,” said Bode about the credit that is due to expire at the end of 2012.

Bode said she’ll be asking lawmakers, “Do you want to raise rates on consumers in a bad economy by raising taxes on wind? Do you want to be the one to say that we just shut down a new manufacturing sector, and an industry that could support 500,000 jobs in less than 20 years, just as it was getting a foothold in the U.S. market?”

Other key figures

  • In the third quarter of 2011, Colorado installed the most new wind capacity, with 501 MW; then Minnesota with 103 MW; Oklahoma with 130 MW; West Virginia with 98 MW; and Texas rounding out the top 5 states with 88 MW.
  • Significant under-construction numbers were reported in numerous states: More than 1,200 MW are under construction in California; more than 800 MW in in Oregon; over 700 MW in Oklahoma and Iowa; and over 600 MW in Illinois, Kansas, and Washington.
  • The 8,400 MW under construction represents one of the largest under construction figures since the height in 2008.
  • The U.S. wind industry now totals 43,461 MW of cumulative wind capacity, accounting for 3 percent of the nation’s electricity through July.
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