The U.S. wind industry has raced past the 20,000 megawatt (MW) installed capacity milestone, achieving in two years what had previously taken more than two decades, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). This represents a doubling of the 10,000-MW level of capacity that was reached in 2006. For perspective, 20 MW is said to be enough electricity to power 5.3 million American homes.
“Wind energy installations are well ahead of the curve for contributing 20% of the U.S. electric power supply by 2030 as envisioned by the U.S. Department of Energy,” says AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. “However, the looming expiration of the federal renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) less than four months from now threatens this spectacular progress. The PTC has been a critical factor in wind’s very rapid growth as a part of the nation’s power portfolio.” The PTC is currently set to expire at the end of 2008.
Swisher and other wind industry leaders noted the 20,000-MW milestone from Minneapolis, where the Republican National Convention is currently being held. Joining Swisher in Minneapolis were AWEA President Jim Walker, of enXco, as well as officials from other leading companies in the wind industry, including Xcel Energy, Vestas Americas A/S, Renewable Energy Systems Americas, and Horizon Wind Power.