Renewables, Wind

U.S. Wind Industry Doubles Previous Record For New Installations

Issue 2 and Volume 106.

The U.S. wind energy industry installed 1,694 MW of new generating capacity in 16 states in 2001 according to figures from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The total was more than twice the previous record set in 1999 when 732 MW was installed, and boosted the industry’s total generating capacity by more than 60 percent over the amount in place a year earlier. Current U.S. installed capacity is 4,258 MW, and there are wind turbine installations in 26 states.

“2001 was an astonishing year for our industry in the U.S.,” said AWEA executive director Randall Swisher. “More new wind generation was installed in a single state – over 900 MW in 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.”

While the wind industry rewrote the record books, prospects for a repeat in 2002 have been thrown into doubt by the expiration of a key incentive, the federal wind production tax credit (PTC), which expired December 31 and was not renewed by Congress.

“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,” said Samuel E. Enfield, vice president of development for wind developer 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.”

“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,” Swisher added. “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.”

The November issue reported that the 1.35 MW solar installation at Tucson Electric’s Springerville power plant is the largest solar installation in the western hemisphere. The item should have said it is the largest photovoltaic solar installation in the western hemisphere. Power Engineering regrets the error.