- The U.S wind industry installed 4,854 MW of new capacity in 2014, quadrupling 2013’s 1,087 MW but falling far short of 2012’s record-setting 13,128 MW of new capacity. The 2014 build increased U.S. wind’s cumulative installed capacity 8% to 65,879 MW.
- The low 2013 total was largely due to Congress’s failure to extend wind’s vital $0.023 per kilowatt-hour production tax credit (PTC), as it did in 2014, until it was too late for new builds. The big 2014 increase came after Congress finally extended the 2013 PTC with “commence construction” language allowing projects to qualify for the full credit if significantly begun, rather than completed, before the close of 2013.
- Utilities signed over 3,300 MW of power purchase agreements for wind in 14 states, many at lowest-ever prices ranging in some cases below $0.025 per kilowatt-hour, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Since the beginning of 2013, utilities have contracted for over 12,000 MW of wind.
A recent whitepaper showed the performance-based PTC drove U.S. wind to outperform China’s larger installed capacity.
Utilities Lincoln Electric System (LES) and Westar Energy were among those that contracted for wind in 2014. LES CEO Kevin Wailes said wind and solar contracts will save the co-op’s customer-owners “approximately $429 million over the next 25 years" and a Westar statement said it relied on wind for “energy at competitive prices."
Wind projects were completed in 19 states in 2014 and construction representing another 12,700 MW is ongoing in 22 states.
Private sector companies, including Google, Microsoft, Walmart, Yahoo!, and Amazon, continued to make big wind investments in pursuit of the most cost-effective way to use renewables.
Texas led the states with over 1,800 MW of new capacity. Oklahoma, Iowa, Washington, and Colorado completed the top five for new builds.