Washington, D.C. [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Business forecasts for the U.S. wind energy industry are predicting a record-breaking year in terms of megawatt development in 2005.The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said there is potential for 2,500 MW of capacity planned for installation, which is almost double the industry’s record year in 2001 of 1,696 MW. AWEA had predicted only 2,000 MW at the beginning of the year, but increased its installation estimate after reviewing developer information from the industry’s first quarter. A megawatt of wind capacity generates about as much electricity as is used by 250-300 households, so the new forecast translates to the equivalent of approximately 700,000 homes that could benefit from wind power. “We are seeing a series of positive trends, from new major players entering the industry to strong economic activity in hard-hit rural areas, and we continue to press for a timely long-term extension of the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC) so that this latest boom can continue,” AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher said. The PTC is set to expire at the end of this year, and Congress has a record of allowing the credit to expire before approving a renewal. Business announcements from the first quarter that prompted AWEA to reconsider its megawatt estimate include: – Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa plans to build a turbine blade manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania. The firm also plans to locate its U.S. headquarters and East Coast development offices in the state, and its activities are expected to lead to 1,000 new jobs there over the next five years. – Blade manufacturer LM Glasfiber has added 100 new jobs at its North Dakota plant since the PTC was extended in October 2004, and said that it hopes to hire 40 to 50 more workers by June of 2005. – Turbine manufacturer Vestas-American Wind Technology is currently advertising for 100 new positions. – New York State has increased its renewable portfolio standard to 25 percent by 2013. The decision could create 43,000 new jobs in manufacturing and energy industries, and through related increased economic activity. – During his state of the state address, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich called for 3,000 MW of new wind farms to be built in Illinois by 2012. “More states are looking seriously at wind energy these days as an engine of economic development,” Swisher said. “And what they are seeing confirms a major study released last fall by the Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP). It reported that boosting wind energy from 6,000 MW to 50,000 MW nationwide would create 150,000 manufacturing jobs.” For a state-by-state listing of existing and proposed wind energy projects visit the link below.