Wind energy projects scored record year in 2012

January 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Wind turbines in Colorado

John Downey
Senior Staff Writer- Charlotte Business Journal

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U.S. companies built record 13.2 gigawatts worth of new wind power capacity in the country in 2012, according to a study released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

A large factor in the construction record is that companies rushed to complete projects before production tax credits for wind projects were scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.

But that was not the only factor, Bloomberg says. Falling prices for wind projects helped significantly.

Colorado ranks 12th in the nation in wind energy production, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

In an encouraging sign for the industry, Bloomberg notes the vast majority of the construction occurred in states that do not require power companies to use renewable resources.

Annual wind construction in the U.S. proceeds in fits and starts. Bloomberg’s figures show that 2012 construction more than doubled the 6.5 gigawatts completed in 2011. And the previous record of 10 megawatts was set in 2010, Bloomberg reports.

The outlook for 2013 is fairly bleak, the report says. The tax credits were unexpectedly extended for a year during the fiscal-cliff negotiations in late December. But large-scale wind projects typically take close to a year or even longer to complete. The tax-credit extension came too late to encourage deals that could be built by the end of this year.

However, the extension does not require a project to be finished by the end of this year to qualify for the tax credit (which had been the case under the rules that expired in 2012). It requires only that substantial construction of the project occur before the end of the year.

John Downey covers the energy industry and public companies for the Charlotte Business Journal.

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