U.S. Wind-Turbine Installations Rose 31% in 2011, AWEA Says

Developers installed wind turbines with capacity of 6,810 megawatts in the U.S. last year, 31 percent more than in 2010, as they rushed to qualify for a federal-tax grant that expired last month, according to an industry group.

Fourth-quarter installations reached 3,444 megawatts, topping the first three quarters combined, led by California, Illinois and Ohio, the fastest-growing state, the American Wind Energy Association said today in a report.

New wind farms with capacity of more than 8,300 megawatts are under construction now. Developers will try to complete them before another federal incentive expires Dec. 31. The Washington-based trade group is pressing Congress to extend the Production Tax Credit of 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour for wind power to prevent manufacturers from firing workers by 2013.

“It is urgent that Congress extend the Production Tax Credit now, before the end of the first quarter, or risk losing a new manufacturing sector to foreign countries,” Denise Bode, AWEA’s chief executive officer, said today on a conference call.

A U.S. Treasury Department program that offered cash grants of as much as 30 percent of development costs ended last year.

General Electric Co. held onto its position as the top supplier last year, delivering turbines with capacity of 2,000 megawatts, followed by Vestas Wind Systems A/S with 1,768 megawatts and Siemens AG with 938.8 megawatts.

Vestas, the world’s largest turbine manufacturer, this month said it would cut 1,600 jobs at its U.S. factories should Congress fail to extend the tax credit.

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