Wind rush continued in first quarter with 1,695 MW added

The U.S. wind industry installed 1,695 MW of capacity in the first quarter, one of its best quarters on record and easily the best January-March period, as developers rushed to get projects built before a key subsidy expires.

The American Wind Energy Association released its first quarter market report for 2012 that showed 788 turbines were erected in 17 states. The 1,695 MW installed brings the total installed wind power capacity in the U.S. to 48,611 MW.

The production tax credit (PTC) expires in December and ASWEA is highlighting a study that says 37,000 jobs would be lost. Attempts to get the credit extended by Congress have failed.

The wind energy industry installed 52% more megawatts in the first quarter than it did the same quarter in 2011, AWEA said. More than 8,900 MW of capacity were under construction in the quarter, with 2,284 MW of new projects starting in the quarter. AWEA said construction is taking place in 31 states and Puerto Rico.

“The last five years have been marked by unprecedented policy stability, and in response wind power has delivered,” AWEA CEO Denise Bode said in a statement. “American wind power contributed 35% of all new electric generating capacity between 2007 and 2011, and today it employs 75,000 people.”

As for project development hotspots during the first quarter, California (370 MW), Oregon (308 MW) and Texas (254 MW) were the leading states for adding the most wind power. Rounding out the top 5 were and Washington (127 MW) and Pennsylvania (121 MW).

One notable trend, previously highlighted in AWEA’s 2011 annual market report, continued to emerge in the first-quarter numbers: wind power is accessing wind resources in geographic areas previously considered to have inadequate wind resources. States with the most growth in 2012’s first quarter include New Hampshire with a growth of 388%, followed by Arizona (72%), Massachusetts (17%) and Pennsylvania (15%).

The top five states with projects now under construction are: Kansas, 1,340 MW; Texas, 914 MW; Oklahoma, 894 MW; California, 777 MW: and Illinois, 705 MW.