The increasing prevalence and success of the renewable energy sectors in the U.S. is largely attributed to government incentives. One such incentive, the production tax credit, has considerably boosted the wind industry. Many in the wind energy field have pointed to the incentive as being behind the growth of wind energy over the last decade.
The production tax credit is set to expire at the end of 2012. However, the production tax credit requires wind farms to be operational prior to the 2012 deadline, so with permits, construction and other slowdowns any wind farm not currently in the works is unlikely to benefit.
The production tax credit gives wind farms 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of energy produced. This applies for the first ten years the wind farm is in production. The tax credit has been in existence since 1999 but has been renewed three times. Due to 2012 being an election year, the tax credit has found difficulty being renewed once more.
But due to the looming deadline of the production tax credit, wind energy across the U.S. is booming. The U.S. officially has more than 50 gigawatts of wind energy installed across the nation after impressive second quarter numbers. Overall 38 states have wind energy installations with 14 states having installations equaling at least 1 gigawatt.
The 50 gigawatts of wind energy installed in the U.S. is approximately equivalent to the energy needed to power 13 million U.S. homes. The wind capacity is equivalent to 44 coal-fired plants or 11 nuclear power plants, a considerable point in the U.S. wind industry.
In the first quarter of 2012, the U.S. installed 1.695 gigawatts of wind energy. This figure decreased in the second quarter but the figure still proved impressive at 1.2 gigawatts installed. In the first two quarters of 2012, the U.S. has seen wind installations increase by 34 percent compared to 2011. Ohio proved to be the state to install the most new wind capacity in the second quarter.
10.3 gigawatts of wind capacity were under construction during the second quarter as companies push to be in operation before the end of the year. Texas currently has the most capacity under construction in the U.S., with 1.573 megawatts hoping to be in operation by the end of the year. Kansas, California, Oklahoma, Iowa and Michigan all have considerable levels of wind capacity currently under construction as well.