Asset Management, Monitoring, Onshore, Project Development, Wind Power

Utility-scale wind energy ramping up for one of best years in U.S.

U.S. wind energy capacity in 2019 should rise the most in six years as the federal production tax credit phases out, according to the government’s Energy Information Administration.

EIA data forecasts that U.S. wind capacity added this year should total 12.7 GW, by far the best since 2012’s record of 13.3 GW. That was the year the production tax credit (PTC) was originally supposed to phase out, although it was extended until federal legislation ends over the next year.

“When renewed in 2013, the PTC provided a maximum tax credit for wind generation of 2.3 cents per kWh for the first 10 years of production,” the EIA report reads. “Under the PTC phaseout, the amount of the tax credit decreases by 20 percentage points per year from 2017 through 2019. Facilities that begin construction after December 31, 2019, will not be able to claim the PTC.”

The American Wind Energy Association’s first quarter report, released a few weeks ago, indicated that a record 39,000 MW were either under construction or in advanced development. Developers reported about 6.1 GW of new wind project activity in the first quarter alone, according to AWEA, which is having its annual Windpower conference next week in Houston.

Utility-scale wind energy is certainly accelerating in the U.S. in recent years. Xcel Energy in April announced it plans 200 MW of wind projects by 2021. Most of those will be in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota.

Kansas City, Mo.-based EPC firm Black & Veatch also announced last month it was providing services for Canada’s Capital Power 150-MW wind project in Illinois.

The regional transmission organization Southwest Power Pool reported that wind provided 66 percent of electricity generation within its footprint on the last weekend in April. Wind accounted for more than 14,000 MW of the 21,000 MW total load in the SPP, according to an AWEA statement.

Wind turbines produced more than 190 million MWh of electricity in the U.S. last year, according to AWEA. It is nearly seven percent of the total American electricity mix and could surpass hydropower as the No. 1 renewable source soon, according to EIA figures.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected])

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