The wind energy industry in the United States installed US$1.7 billion of new turbines last year, according to statistics from the American Wind Energy Association.WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2002-01-25 [SolarAccess.com] It was a “blowout year” with 1,694 megawatts of new capacity in 16 states, more than double the previous record year of 1999 when 732 MW was installed, says executive director Randall Swisher. Total generating capacity was 60 percent higher, with current installed capacity at 4,258 MW in 26 states. “2001 was an astonishing year for our industry,” says Swisher. “More new wind generation was installed in a single state – Texas – than had ever been installed in the entire country in a single year. We are finally beginning to tap into wind energy’s enormous potential.” Texas installed 900 MW of wind last year, boosting its total to 1,000 MW. California is the state with the highest capacity at 1,700 MW. The new windfarms will generate as much electricity as 475,000 average homes use each year, and will displace the emission of 3 megatonnes of carbon dioxide and 27,000 tons of noxious air pollutants each year. They will also pay $5 million a year to landowners and create 200 jobs. AWEA warned that prospects for another record year in 2002 are in doubt by the expiration of the federal wind production tax credit which expired on December 31 and was not renewed by Congress. Bills to renew the PTC had strong support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but were left unpassed due to a partisan battle over economic stimulus legislation before Christmas. “There are hundreds of megawatts’ worth of wind power projects, representing hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in states like Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, and West Virginia, which will not go forward this year unless Congress reinstates the wind energy Production Tax Credit early in this year’s session,” warns Samuel Enfield of the wind development company, Atlantic Renewable Energy Corp. “This has to be done on a timely basis, if we are to be able to plan for and order the long-lead-time capital equipment that will go into these projects.” Swisher says the PTC extension is “vital to continuing the industry’s momentum.” “These projects aren’t just important to helping maintain the growth of the wind power industry, which has been the fastest-growing energy industry in the world over the past decade,” he says. “Wind is well on its way to providing six percent of our nation’s electricity – as much as 25 million households use annually – by the year 2020.” “That’s a readily achievable goal, and we could easily exceed it but, for that to happen, we need strong and consistent policy support from our federal and state governments,” he adds. “The PTC works, and it works well, as the past year has shown. It should be extended as soon as possible.” AWEA was formed in 1974 as the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. It has 700 members in 49 states.