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Record US wind output in 2011

New figures show US wind power capacity is expected to climb year on year after it climbs almost third in one year

US installed wind capacity reached 6,816MW in 2011

The US wind industry installed 6,816MW in 2011, 31 per cent higher than 2010, the country’s industry trade group, AWEA said on 12 April.

More than 8,300MW of wind power under construction across the US, it found. Total installed capacity date is 46,916 MW.

The nation has about 1m MW of generating capacity with about 400,000 MW coming from natural gas burning plants; 300,000 MW from coal; 100,000 MW from nuclear; 80,000 MW from hydropower; 50,000 MW from oil and the rest mostly from wind and other renewables, Reuters reported.

One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes. Wind and natural gas are the two largest sources of new generating capacity in the US. Wind has provided about 35 per cent of new US power capacity over the past five years, AWEA said.

But the trade group warned new wind projects could suffer if Congress allows the Production Tax Credit to expire at the end of 2012. The tax credit is a tax incentive that encourages development of clean energy projects.

"In hard economic times we're creating jobs and delivering clean, affordable electricity," AWEA CEO Denise Bode said in the statement.

"But we will lose all these consumer benefits and a brand new, growing manufacturing sector if Congress allows the Production Tax Credit to expire. Businesses need certainty. That is why it is urgent that Congress extend the PTC now, or risk losing a bright new manufacturing sector," she said.

AWEA said the wind industry was facing a recurrence of the boom-bust cycle it saw in previous years when the production tax credit was allowed to expire. In the years following expiration, installations dropped by between 73 and 93 per cent, resulting in major job losses, AWEA said.

The three states with the most wind power installed are Texas with 10,300 MW, Iowa with 4,300 MW and California with 3,900 MW. Top ten states for wind generation as a percentage of their portfolio:

1. South Dakota: 22.3%
2. Iowa: 18.8%
3. North Dakota: 14.7%
4. Minnesota: 12.7%
5. Wyoming: 10.1%
6. Colorado: 9.2%
7. Kansas: 8.3%
8. Oregon: 8.2%
9. Idaho: 8.2%
10. Oklahoma: 7.1%

Top ten states for wind projects under construction in 2012:

1. Kansas: 1,189 MW
2. Texas: 857 MW
3. California: 847 MW
4. Oregon: 640 MW
5. Illinois: 615 MW
6. Pennsylvania: 520 MW
7. Iowa: 470 MW
8. Oklahoma: 393 MW
9. Michigan: 348 MW
10. Washington: 331 MW