With help from the federal renewable energy tax credit, as well as state regulations favoring the industry, wind power continues to set new records for installed capacity. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), 2007 could be the industry’s biggest year so far in terms of new installations. Last year, new wind farms accounted for nearly 2,500 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity, bringing the nation’s installed capacity to more than 11,603 MW and making the industry the second largest source of new power generation in the country behind only natural gas.

Although only 124 MW of new wind power was commissioned in the first quarter of this year, the AWEA reports more than 4,500 MW of wind power projects are in the process of being built for completion this year and early next year.The industry group attributes much of the steady growth to the extension of the federal renewable energy production tax credit, which has provided the financial incentive for new development on a consistent basis for several years. Renewable portfolio standards and other state regulations also have contributed to the favorable climate for wind power.

According to the AWEA, a number of states have major projects in the works. Texas, the nation’s wind power leader, currently has 4,000 MW of capacity under construction. Nearby, Colorado and Oklahoma are projected to add as much as 1,000 MW and 215 MW of capacity, respectively, by the end of the year.

In the Midwest, Minnesota is adding 400 MW of capacity, and more than 300 MW is being built in nearby Iowa. Illinois currently has several projects under construction totaling more than 400 MW of capacity.

In the Northwest, Oregon, Washington and Montana all have projects being developed. Oregon and Washington each could have more than 300 MW of new capacity online when their projects are completed.

Another 300 MW of new wind power capacity could come online at the end of the year on the East Coast. New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia each have projects underway ranging in size from 20 MW to 164 MW of capacity.  EC