The US wind energy industry installed over 1,600 MW in the third quarter, and nearly 3,600 MW for the whole year, but still faces policy uncertainty.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) published its US Wind Industry Third Quarter 2015 Market Report on Thursday, highlighting the more than 1,600 MW of new wind energy capacity that has been installed in the country during the third quarter, bringing the year’s full cumulative new capacity up to nearly 3,600 MW. However, despite the billions worth of investment the industry is bringing in, and the number of well-paying jobs the industry supports, the US wind energy sector is still facing policy uncertainty in the face of a possible cessation of the Investment and Production Tax Credits.
“We are on the cusp of greatness,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “There are over $20 billion worth of wind farms under construction right now, creating well-paying jobs and spurring economic development in rural communities across the country. This growth is in jeopardy however, as continued policy uncertainty could throw the wind industry off yet another economic cliff.”
The US installed a total of 848 turbines in the second quarter, across 13 projects in 7 different states, with Texas accounting for the most capacity installed so far this year, 771 MW, followed by Oklahoma with 398 MW, Kansas with 201 MW, and Illinois with 175 MW. For the year, the US has installed 1,862 turbines totaling 3,596 MW, more than double the 1,254 MW installed during the first three quarters of 2014.
US Annual and Cumulative Wind Power Capacity Growth
As of the publication of the report, the AWEA was aware of 13,250 MW worth of construction taking place across 102 projects in 25 states, including 1,250 MW of new construction announcements made during the third quarter.
However, despite the obvious growth and benefit of the US wind industry, politics is playing its hand and creating enormous uncertainty, which is and will continue to have a dramatic impact on the industry’s future growth. Specifically, a “tax extenders” package has been sitting in Congress for awhile now, which would extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC), both of which have played an important role in the growth and success of the US wind energy industry.
“Extending the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit this year for the longest practical term will help wind power grow our economy and deliver more savings to American homeowners and businesses,” said Kiernan.
Another barrier that has stepped in to prevent the wider-spread of wind in the US includes the need for easy access to ample transmission infrastructure.
“Building new transmission infrastructure is essential to enabling more low-cost wind energy to power American homes and businesses,” said Michael Skelly, Founder and President of Clean Line Energy. “With more transmission, we can bring wind energy from areas where it’s abundant and cheap to areas where it’s needed. It’s an exciting time for the wind industry as there are new transmission projects—currently awaiting decisions from federal authorities—that will bring about thousands of megawatts of new wind development.”