Washington, D.C., Aug. 15, 2006 — U.S. wind energy installations now exceed 10,000 megawatts (MW) in generating capacity, and produce enough electricity on a typical day to power the equivalent of over 2.5 million homes, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced.
“Wind energy is providing new electricity supplies that work for our country’s economy, environment, and energy security,” said AWEA executive director Randall Swisher.
The growth in wind power is driven by demand for the popular energy source and concerns over fuel price volatility and supply said AWEA. It was also made possible by a timely renewal of the production tax credit (PTC), a federal incentive extended in the Energy Policy Act signed a year ago by President Bush.
Previously, the credit had been allowed to expire three times in seven years, and this uncertainty discouraged investment in wind turbine manufacturing in the country. AWEA is calling for a long-term extension of the PTC before its scheduled expiration at the end of 2007 to avoid further hiccups and encourage long-term investment.
The industry is gaining momentum as it grows. The first commercial wind farms were constructed in California in the early 1980s, and after reaching 1,000 MW in 1985, it took more than a decade for wind to reach the 2,000-MW mark, in 1999. Since then, however, installed capacity has grown fivefold. Currently the industry is installing more wind power in a single year (3,000 MW expected in 2006) than the amount operating in the entire country in 2000 (2,500 MW) said AWEA in a recent press release.
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