Southwire Wind Industry

U.S. Wind Industry to See Record Capacity in 2012

This spring, the U.S. wind industry posted its busiest first quarter in history, installing 788 new turbines and 1,695 megawatts (MW) in 17 states. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), this brings cumulative U.S. wind power capacity to 48,611 MW as of March.

The pace has continued well into the summer, with 8,916 MW under construction in 31 states and Puerto Rico. The next few months will be especially busy as developers push to complete new installations before a federal wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) expires in December.

Because of the push to put new projects in service by the deadline, analysts expect a record increase in capacity by the end of 2012.

A state-by-state breakdown of installations documents the massive build out. It begins with Texas where, according to AWEA, even wind energy capacity is bigger. Texas has five of the country’s 10 largest wind farms and holds the lead in total MW installed so far. Here are the top five states:

  1. Texas – 10,648 MW
  2. Iowa – 4,410 MW
  3. California – 4,287 MW
  4. Illinois – 2,852 MW
  5. Minnesota – 2,718 MW

Although Midwestern regions tend to lead, growth is occurring even in less-windy states—especially for the manufacturing segment. Currently, 470 U.S. facilities produce wind turbine components, such as towers, blades and nacelles. Together with other market segments, such as land leasing and transmission and distribution, the industry represents an average $15.6 billion spend each year.

But the future of wind installations remains uncertain.  Even though the federal wind PTC has expired and then been extended  three times since enacted in 1992, the uncertainty over whether Congress will extend it this time has caused significant market uncertainty; layoffs have already begun and the industry is bracing to lose 95 percent of installations in 2013 if the PTC expires.

We at Southwire can attest to the nation’s wind energy production by the rate of growth we’re seeing in our own renewable energy wire and cable product lines. What about you—what wind projects are you seeing in your state?

– Carol Godfrey

10 comments

  1. Bridget Williams

    While traveling in MN this past week, I saw several wind farms, and was intrigued, especially after reading this article!

  2. Kenosha Shields

    The wind power is small in the State of Mississippi. Where I am located I can’t say I see a lot of wind farm if hardly any. I am glad these blogs are available…very educational without doing a lot of research!!!

  3. Ryan Hall

    We are part of the TVA region here in Northwest Alabama. TVA has very few wind farms but does have quite a bit of hydro-electric facilities. I would like to see more wind power in the South but the area just isn’t that great for wind with the terrain.

  4. Courtney Roberts

    Tennessee has seen rapid growth in Solar and Wind energy. They have good economic policies to encourage its use. I can’t believe i am about to say this, but; I would love to see more states follow Texas’s example.

  5. Eric Mason

    Sure wish there was enough wind here in Orlando to justify having a wind farm. Awesome way to utilize the earth’s natural resources.

  6. Judy Rowe

    I’m enjoying learning about the wind and solar stats. via the Blog. Such good information!! It would be great for Georgia to have a plan B from hydro energy. If Georgia would join Texas…it would be a great way to prove to the nation that Georgia is also a great leader the south.

  7. Holly Israel

    I enjoyed reading about the wind industry in the US. I have always thought it an unknown and uncertain source of enerygy. To be able to harness the wind for this use is a great idea, and definitely would be most profitable in the mid west where large expanses of flat terrain with strong winds is a big factor. However I would like to know what the expense to energy ratio is now with current technology; and what is the future analysis of the industry if the federal PTC IS extended?

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