Wind energy installations at the end of 2010 were only half the volume of 2009 installations, but activity is already increasing in 2011.
"Wind power is a great deal right now in many areas of the country," said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). "However, our industry continues to endure a boom-bust cycle because of the lack of long-term, predictable federal policies, in contrast to the permanent entitlements that fossil fuels have enjoyed for 90 years or more. Now that we're competing with natural gas on cost, we need consistent federal policies to ensure we have a diverse portfolio of energy sources in this country and don't become over-reliant on one source or another."
The cost of wind energy has dropped over the past two years, making it competitive with natural gas. That factor, along with the renewal of the Section 1603 Investment Tax Credit, has helped boost current wind installations to 5,600 megawatts so far this year. Wind installations in 2011 will likely outnumber 2010 volumes.
"With uncertainty around natural gas and power prices as the economy recovers, wind's long-term price stability is even more valued. We expect that utilities will move to lock in more wind contracts, given the cost-competitive nature of wind in today's market," said Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA Director of Industry Data and Analysis.
Total U.S. wind capacity is currently 40,180 megawatts, a 15 percent increase from the beginning of 2010.