Despite the economic recession and the resulting slump in the renewable energy sector, the wind energy industry added 1,649 megawatts (MW) of new capacity to the U.S. grid in the third quarter of 2009, the American Wind Energy Association reported Tuesday.
The new capacity—enough to serve the equivalent of 480,000 average households and an amount higher than both the 2nd quarter of 2009 or the 3rd quarter of 2008—brings the total capacity added to the U.S. grid this year to date to over 5,800 MW. But industry representatives expressed cautious optimism.
“Wind power installations are up, and that is good news for America’s economy, environment, and energy security,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode in a statement Tuesday. "But manufacturing, which has the potential to employ many more Americans in good, clean energy jobs, remains uncertain"
Bode said that the U.S. still needs a firm, long-term national commitment to renewable energy "to become a wind turbine manufacturing powerhouse and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
Since the Obama administration announced rules to implement the stimulus bill in July, the resulting wind industry projects equate to about $6.5 billion in new investment, according to AWEA.
The state posting the fastest growth rate in the third quarter was Arizona, which installed its first utility-scale project. Pennsylvania ranked 2nd in growth, followed by Illinois, Wyoming and New Mexico.
Of all the states, Texas added the most wind—436 MW—in the third quarter, and maintains its position as the top wind power producing state in the U.S.
The total wind power capacity now operating in the U.S. is over 31 gigawatts, enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 9 million homes.