While the effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) have come under intense scrutiny lately, praise is emanating from at least one benefactor.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the U.S. wind-energy industry experienced a blustery three months of growth ending in September thanks in no small part to the Obama administration’s response to the economic crisis.

In its third-quarter market report, the AWEA claimed the nation’s purveyors of wind power installed new electrical generating capacity that far outpaced the closest benchmarks, which would be the previous (second) quarter of this year and the same (third) quarter of last year. Total installed capacity during the third quarter this year reached 1,649 megawatts, bringing the total capacity added for the year so far to 5,800 megawatts.

Investment in wind power is notoriously fickle and historically tied to federal policies that create a favorable climate for new development. It should come as no surprise then that the AWEA cites the ARRA as “a major driving factor in the higher numbers of wind project development” and that it points to the July announcement of rules to implement the ARRA as a trigger for the higher growth.

Just as all strong gusts eventually subside, even the stimulus package will not be enough to compensate entirely for the negative forces constraining the national economy. Along those lines, AWEA does not expect the fourth quarter of 2009 to be as strong as the fourth quarter of 2008, since the 5,000 megawatts now under construction are nearly 38 percent lower than the over 8,000 megawatts under construction at this time last year. Further reflecting this constrained growth, the organization also reports that wind turbine manufacturing still lags below 2008 levels, in production and in new announcements.