US Wind Energy Industry Booming, But . . .

The American Wind Energy Association has recently reported that 2,151 megawatts (MW) of wind power have been installed in the first half of 2011 versus 1,250 MW during the same time in 2010, up 72 percent. An additional 7,354 MW of new capacity was under construction by July 1, more than at any time since the third quarter of 2008. The U.S. wind industry now totals 42,432 MW of wind capacity, led by Texas with more than a fourth of the total.

The wind sector averaged 3.2 percent of the nation’s electricity over the strong wind months between January and April 2011, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Electric Power Monthly report. For now, wind energy remains ahead of schedule to generate 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030, the goal identified by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under the George W. Bush Administration.

The Association, referencing a report published by the Vermont Law School and authored by Mark Cooper, endorsed the approach that wind energy today is such a good deal that it helps hold down overall prices for electricity long-term. Cooper asserted that an American utility would be irresponsible not to invest in such a fixed-price source of power. However, it also noted that policy uncertainty, including uncertainty over federal subsidy programs, leaves the industry concerned that growth could stall by 2013.

Stability in U.S. tax policy has helped to increase the made in America content in U.S.-installed turbines from 25 percent just a few years ago to over 50 percent in 2009 and reaching 60 percent domestic content according to a July 2011 DOE report.

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