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U.S. Wind Industry Poised for Rebound After Dismal First Half

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 A rush by utilities to take advantage of a federal tax credit made late 2012 a historic time for the wind energy sector.

The Production Tax Credit (PTC) expired Dec. 31, 2012, bringing installations to a screeching halt in early 2013. Though Congress temporarily extended the PTC two days later, the industry installed just 1.6 megawatts (MW) during the first quarter. No installations took place in the second quarter, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Utilities installed 69 MW in the third quarter, which is reason enough for AWEA to predict a rebound in its 2013 Third Quarter Market Report.

Graphic credit: American Wind Energy Association

“We knew the slowdown was coming when the PTC expired and here it is,” Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA’s chief economist, told Bloomberg. “The good news is that utilities are signing new contracts faster than I’ve seen in a long time.”

There were more than 2,327 MW under construction in the U.S. as of Sept. 30. The projects span 13 states, with Texas leading the way with nearly 540 MW under construction, followed by Michigan with 362 MW and Nebraska with 275 MW.

The nation's total installed wind capacity is 60,078 MW, according to AWEA.

Graphic credit: American Wind Energy Association

"Activity is now picking up, however, with utilities issuing at least 28 RFPs [requests for proposal] for wind, renewables or other capacity," the report reads. "These 2013 RFPs have already led to at least 3,900 MW of contracts for new wind builds, with more results forthcoming."

Salerno said companies recently began buying more wind power because prices dropped to $25 per megawatt hour, which is cheaper than any other new power source.

"Some utilities issued their RFPs but then signed up for double or triple the amount," she said.

"The U.S. wind industry is gearing up to meet strong demand for more wind energy going forward," AWEA's report reads.

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

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