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U.S. Wind Power Hits 50GW

Uncertainty on Tax Credit Renewals

Written by Swagato Chakravorty
Posted August 13, 2012 at 3:43PM

The U.S. hit 50 gigawatts of wind-powered electric capacity in the second quarter of this year, according to an announcement from the American Wind Energy Association.

Just this year alone, the nation has had 2,800 megawatts and 1,400 wind turbines installed countrywide, chiefly across Nevada, Idaho, Iowa, Hawaii, Oklahoma, and California.

Some of the more major projects include Pattern Energy’s 151.8 MW Spring Valley wind farm in Nevada, Enel Green Power’s (BIT: EGPW) 148.8 MW Rocky Ridge wind farm in Oklahoma, and enXco’s Kern County, California, wind plant of 140 MW capacity.

The U.S. has come a long way in wind power generation. Just 5 GW came from wind power between 1983 and 2003. By 2012, we have reached 50 GW. This milestone was last reached by nuclear power, which hit 50 GW capacity in the 1970s and 1980s.

The AWEA states that 39 states are home to utility-scale wind facilities, and most of this rapid growth has actually emerged from materials and turbines manufactured domestically. In other words, the impact of a growing wind sector is not limited to energy and environment alone; it can also be a boost for the manufacturing sector.

From CleanTechnica:

“This milestone for wind-energy production marks continued success for this clean, renewable and domestically produced energy source,” said Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in a statement. “Wind energy has exceeded expectations since I first authored the tax incentive, in 1992, and offers an ideal for expanded production and use of alternative energy sources in the future.”

Ironically, all this could be a prelude to a downfall, as the Production Tax Credits continue to wallow in governmental uncertainty regarding the question of renewal. So far, nothing has been said or done about the credits, which are set to expire at the end of this year. A renewal would be absolutely vital to sustaining the pace of growth currently being set.

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