AWEA: Wind capacity surpasses 50 GW as developers race against PTC expiration

The U.S. wind industry reached a milestone during the third quarter, surpassing 50 GW of total installed generation capacity, according to a new American Wind Energy Association report.

The industry installed 1,832.7 MW during the quarter, bringing total wind power capacity installations to 51,630 MW. Wind capacity additions in 2012 have totaled 4,728 MW so far, AWEA said in its third-quarter market report. At least 40 electric utilities own or have contracted wind from projects currently online through the third quarter, the association said.

The third quarter saw a 52% increase in installed capacity over the year-ago quarter. Twenty-seven wind projects were installed in 15 states during the quarter.

The wind industry installed 40% more capacity during the first three quarters of 2012 than the same period in 2011, primarily due to developers racing against the clock to complete projects before the production tax credit, or PTC, expires. The PTC provides wind plants that are in service by Dec. 31 with a tax credit for the first 10 years of electricity production from utility-scale turbines.

"This is what a successful policy looks like when it's working, but whether wind will continue to be a bright spot in the U.S. economy now depends on whether Congress acts to extend the production tax credit by the end of the year," AWEA CEO Denise Bode said in an Oct. 18 statement.

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