The U.S. wind energy industry had its strongest year ever in 2012, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced on January 30. The industry installed a record 13,124 megawatts (MW) of U.S. electric generating capacity last year, achieving over 60,000 MW of cumulative wind capacity, enough to power almost 15 million homes. The annual total far surpasses the previous record of 10,000 MW installed in 2010. For the first time, wind energy became the number one source of new U.S. electric generating capacity, providing 42% of all new generating capacity.
In last year’s fourth quarter alone, 8,380 MW were installed, making it the strongest quarter in U.S. wind power history. AWEA noted that this was due in large part to impending expiration of the federal Production Tax Credit. It was slated to end on December 31, 2012, but was extended by Congress as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
The top 10 states for new capacity installations in 2012, in order, were Texas (1,826 MW), California (1,656 MW), Kansas (1,440 MW), Oklahoma (1,127 MW), Illinois (823 MW), Iowa (814 MW), Oregon (640 MW), Michigan (611 MW), Pennsylvania (550 MW), and Colorado (496 MW). The Golden State regained its position as the second largest state in installed wind capacity, surpassing Iowa, which had been number two since 2008. California achieved the 5,000-MW milestone in wind capacity, following Texas, and alongside Iowa.
Source: EERE Wind
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