U.S. Wind Power Hits Record in 2012, Grows 28%

A record amount of wind power was built in the U.S. last year, according to new study. But the market has come to a screeching halt this year, given that lawmakers on Capitol Hill waited until the 11th hour to extend a wind-power tax credit. So reports Dow Jones Newswires.

Some 13,124 megawatts of wind power was installed in the U.S. during 2012, according to the American Wind Energy Association. That number far exceeded the last record, which was set in 2009, of 3,000. The high number equated to some $25 billion in private investment, said the association.

Texas installed 1,826 megawatts, the biggest generator of wind power in the country. The Lone Star state was followed by California, Kansas and Oklahoma, each of which added in excess of 1,000 megawatts, according to the association’s report.

The U.S. now has some 60,000 megawatts of wind capacity. At that number, there’s now enough power to keep 15 million homes lit, even if wind conditions change, the association says. Wind power is still a tiny amount of electricity generation in the U.S., though. It accounted for just 3.4% in 2012, says the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

But the industry is evolving, says Liz Salerno, the wind association’s chief economist. Illinois built the first concrete tower last year to hold a wind turbine. Using concrete to hold turbines instead of just steel will allow developers to build higher towers and potentially make additional sites available, Salerno said.

The impending expiration of the wind-power tax credit cast an uncertain pall over the market, it actually fueled installations in the fourth quarter as developers tried to get projects done before the credit expired at year end. The fourth quarter saw 8,380 megawatts of new power installed, more than half the megawatts installed all year. In the end, Congress extended the credit as part of a New Year’s Day deal on tax policy. The extension enables projects initiated this year to fall under the credit as well. So reports Dow Jones.

The uncertain future of the tax credit, though, meant that developers stopped planning new projects last year. And Congress may let the credit lapse the end of this year anyway. So far this year, only two projects, amounting to just 42.9 megawatts of power, are underway.

It’s going to take a while for the industry to ramp up again, in terms of producing more megawatts, said Salerno. So reports Dow Jones.

Some have always been critical of the credit, which amounts to 2.2 cents for each kilowatt-hour of electricity generated. They say the industry should be able to stand on its own, without being subsidized.

To read the full Wall Street Journal article cited in this story, click here

To learn more about the AWEA report, click here

Tags: Wind

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