U.S. Wind Energy on Track for Another Record Year

The U.S. wind energy industry is on track to installing a record-breaking 3,000 megawatts (MW) this year — generating enough electricity to power approximately 600,000 homes — the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said in its First Quarter Market Report. However, there is a holdback to completion of some projects due to concerns with radar.

AWEA reports that construction is under way on a number of facilities scheduled for completion in 2006. More than 400 MW of new plants have been brought online since January, including the 150-MW Shiloh Wind Farm in California, the 60-MW Spring Creek Wind Farm in Colorado and the 60-MW completion of the first phase of the Maple Ridge project in upstate New York. Overall, the industry is planning to invest more than $4 billion in new wind energy capacity this year. “Wind power is a clean, safe, domestic source of renewable energy, and it helps protect consumers against rising fuel prices,” said Randall Swisher, AWEA executive director. “The market is recognizing wind energy’s value.” In 2005, the industry broke annual installed capacity records, installing more than 2,400 MW or more than $3 billion worth of new generating equipment in 22 states. Wind farms were the second-largest source of new power generation built in the U.S. in 2005, after new natural gas power plants. America’s wind farm fleet is currently saving an estimated half a billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, alleviating a portion of the tight supply pressure that is driving up prices and imports of the fuel. More of these positive outcomes could be held up, however, by concern over potential effects on civilian or military radar. Action by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regional offices and the Department of Defense (DOD) has effectively halted development of several pending wind energy facilities and the potential exists for more such shutdowns. The possibility of radar interference has been known for a long time, and a variety of solutions already exist: wind turbines and radars function successfully in areas at home and abroad where wind turbines are in operation (including on military bases such as Guantanamo Bay and Wyoming’s F.E. Warren Air Force Base). AWEA said they recognize and respect the paramount importance of any concerns relating to security, and support resolving legitimate problems as quickly as possible. AWEA also believes that rapid development of domestic energy sources is vital to national security. A state-by-state listing of existing and proposed wind energy projects on AWEA’s website: http://www.awea.org/projects/index.html. Find projects installed in 2005 on AWEA’s newsroom: http://www.awea.org/newsroom/2005_projects.pdf.
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