The U.S. wind industry continues to grow, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Approximately 1,100 MW of new capacity was installed in the first quarter of this year, and another 5,600 MW is under construction.
The under-construction figure is nearly twice the megawatts that the industry reported at this time in both 2009 and 2010. In addition, two-thirds of those megawatts have long-term power purchase agreements with electric utilities. The total wind fleet now stands at 41,400 MW, according to AWEA.
The first quarter's 1,100 MW of new capacity came online in 12 different states, with some seeing double-digit growth. U.S. states with the most capacity additions so far include Minnesota (293 MW), Washington (252 MW), Illinois (240 MW), Idaho (119 MW) and Nebraska (81 MW).
Of the 5,600 MW currently under construction, one-third is located in Oregon, Washington and California, making the West Coast a leader in wind project activity, according to AWEA.
‘States continue to lead the nation with clear, strong policies,’ says Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA's chief economist. ‘For example, 10 years ago, California led the nation with 60 percent of U.S. wind capacity. With the recent passage of the strongest renewable target in the nation – calling for 33 percent renewables by 2020 – California is poised to retake its leadership, as it already had over 600 MW under construction in the first quarter.’