U.S. Wind Projects Triple for 2015, With Amazon, HP Joining Push

  • Almost 3,600 megawatts added in first nine months, AWEA says
  • Businesses, local governments join utilities as new buyers

The US added about 3,600 megawatts of wind power capacity in the first nine months of 2015, almost triple the amount from a year earlier, as businesses and local governments moved to line up their own supplies of electricity.

Thirteen wind farms accounted for 3,596 megawatts installed through September, up from 1,254 megawatts a year earlier, according to a report Thursday from the American Wind Energy Association. The 1,602 megawatts added from July through September were almost four times the total in last year’s third quarter, the Washington-based trade group said.

The growth was driven in part by new players joining the utilities that have traditionally been wind developers’ biggest customers. Amazon.com Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Washington, D.C., all signed contracts in the third quarter to purchase wind power. Microsoft Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced investments in two wind projects, according to AWEA. Amazon’s 208-megawatt project in North Carolina would be the largest in the southeast.

New Demand

Demand “is coming from new directions," the group said in a statement. “Non-utility groups, including well-known corporate brands and even the nation’s capital, are joining the market."

Total installed capacity reached 69,471 megawatts in the U.S., up from 65,877 megawatts at the end of last year. Another 13,250 megawatts were under construction with 4,100 more in “advanced stages of development," the group said. Texas continued to lead the nation with more than 16,000 megawatts of installed power.

Wind costs have fallen by more than half over the past five years, said Chris Brown, president of the U.S. unit of Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s biggest turbine supplier.

“It’s the cheapest new source of renewable energy,” Brown, the trade group’s incoming chairman, said in an interview. “We can beat any new generation on costs in some states like Texas and we’re still driving down costs further.”

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