Installations of wind turbines in the U.S. more than quadrupled last year led by growth in Texas, as developers took advantage of an expiring federal tax credit, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Developers completed 4,850 megawatts of wind farms, up from 1,087 megawatts that went into service in 2013, the Washington-based trade group said today in a statement. More than 1,100 megawatts were installed in Texas. The U.S. now has more than 65 gigawatts of wind power capacity, second only to China’s 96 gigawatts. At year-end there was more than 12,700 megawatts of capacity under construction, the majority in Texas.
The U.S. wind industry has been up-and-down in recent years in response to changing tax policies. New development nearly came to a halt in 2013, slumping 92 percent from the prior year, as Congress let a federal production tax credit lapse briefly.
The credit expired at the end of 2013 and was renewed in January 2014, covering projects that began construction by year-end, leading to last year’s surge, AWEA said. The PTC pays owners of wind farms 2.3 cents a kilowatt-hour for the electricity.
The wind industry has lobbied for PTC to be renewed.
“We don’t think we need the PTC forever,” Tom Kiernan, AWEA’s chief executive officer, said in a conference call Wednesday.
“We want to figure out a responsible policy going forward to extend the PTC for as long as possible,” he said. “We don’t want the industry to go off the cliff again.”