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US wind capacity blows through the milestone of 50 GW

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The American Wind Association warns that although US wind capacity has reached the milestone of 50 GW, there may be uncertain times ahead.

The target was reached due to developments such as Pattern Energy’s 152 MW Spring Valley wind farm in Nevada, Enel Green Power North America’s 149 MW Rocky Ridge wind farm in Oklahoma, and enXco’s 140 MW Pacific Wind project in Kern County, California.

There is now enough power for nearly 13 million homes, which is equivalent to  the whole of Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia, Alabama, and Connecticut combined – and there are utility-scale wind farms in 39 states.

Wind capacity in the US reached 10 GW in 2006, more than doubled in 2008 and has doubled again since. Another 10 GW is under construction in Texas, Kansas, California, Oklahoma and Iowa.

But CEO of AWEA, Denise Bode, warns that these could be the best and worst of times for the US wind industry.

“This month we shattered the 50 GW mark, and we’re on pace for one of our best years ever in terms of megawatts installed. But because of the uncertainty surrounding the extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC), incoming orders are grinding to a halt,” she said.

With layoffs starting to be reported across the US turbine industry, as well as at international giants like Vestas, Gamesa and Iberdrola Renewables, Bode called on Congress to extend the PTC.

“I’m deeply distressed that our wind industry colleagues are facing furloughs and layoffs due to lack of stable tax policy,” commented Bode. “Congress must act now to give wind energy a stable business environment to keep building this new industry and save 37,000 American jobs by the first quarter of next year.”

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