The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has announced a milestone for installed wind power in the U.S.: The country has passed the 70 GW mark.
The milestone was achieved in November but was documented and announced by AWEA today. According to AWEA, there is now enough wind turbine capacity to supply over 19 million typical American homes with low-cost electricity – or enough to light New York City's Rockefeller Center Christmas tree for over 440,000 years.
‘This American wind power success story just gets better. There's now enough wind power installed to meet the equivalent of total electricity demand in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming," explains Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA.
Wind power crossed both the 50 GW and 60 GW thresholds in 2012, when developers rushed to complete projects before the expiration of the production tax credit (PTC). The subsequent policy uncertainty in 2013 derailed that momentum, and wind energy installations declined by 92% that year, says AWEA. Recent extensions have resulted in a near-record amount of construction now underway across the U.S., the association explains.
Last week, Congress passed a multiyear extension of the performance-based PTC and alternative investment tax credit as part of the government spending bill – securing the predictable business environment needed to keep U.S. factories open and further scale up American wind power, says AWEA.
Previous short-term extensions of the wind tax incentives helped spur a near-record of more than 13.25 GW of wind capacity currently under construction in the U.S., with an additional 4.1 GW in advanced stages of development. According to AWEA, this year's multiyear extension is expected to add to that number.
In the U.S., there are currently over 50,000 operating wind turbines at more than 980 utility-scale farms across 40 states and Puerto Rico. American wind power began this year with a capacity of 65.877 GW, with 956 utility-scale wind projects in 39 states and Puerto Rico. With the addition of more wind this month, the 2015 total will be well above the 70 GW announced today, says AWEA.
Among the new wind farms completed so far this quarter – which helped push wind over 70 GW – are projects in Colorado, Maine, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and North Dakota. Other recent additions include the first utility-scale project to be completed in Connecticut. North Carolina announced the start of construction of its first utility-scale wind farm in October; once completed, the project will be the largest in the Southeast and will bring the number of U.S. states with a commercial-scale wind farm to 41.
AWEA notes that wind energy production also blew away records across the U.S. last month, as grid operators in Texas and the Midwest reported output peak records in November.