Washington, D.C., May 8, 2006 — The U.S. wind energy industry is on track to installing a record breaking 3,000 megawatts (MW) this year the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said in its first quarter market report. The AWEA reported 2005 as a record year for wind energy installed capacity.
Construction is under way on a number of facilities scheduled for completion in 2006. Over 400 MW of new plants have already been brought online since January, including the 150-MW Shiloh Wind Farm in California, the 60-MW Spring Creek Wind Farm in Colorado, and the 60-MW completion of the first phase of the Maple Ridge project in upstate New York. Overall, the industry is planning to invest over $4 billion in new wind energy capacity this year, said the AWEA in a recent press release.
The industry broke annual installed capacity records in 2005, installing over 2,400 MW or over $3 billion worth of new generating equipment in 22 states. Wind farms were the second-largest source of new power generation built in the U.S. in 2005, after new natural gas power plants, said the AWEA.
New installations could be held up, however, by concern over potential effects on civilian or military radar. Action by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regional offices and the Department of Defense (DOD) has effectively halted development of several pending wind energy facilities and the potential exists for more such shutdowns. Installation of the vast majority of proposed projects is on schedule, but a total of at least 500 MW due for completion this year and next is now under a de facto moratorium, according to initial AWEA estimates, and that number could grow if the issue is not swiftly and appropriately resolved as part of the project siting process.
The possibility of radar interference has been known for a long time, and a variety of solutions already exist: wind turbines and radars function successfully in areas at home and abroad where wind turbines are in operation (including on military bases such as Guantanamo Bay and Wyoming’s F.E. Warren Air Force Base), suggested the AWEA in a press release.