Wind power installations hit new milestone

The United States wind power industry is celebrating a new milestone, hitting 70 gigawatts of capacity in November.

Wind energy can now power 19 million homes, or meet the total electricity demand of Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said Monday.

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“This American wind power success story just gets better,” Tom Kiernan, AWEA’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Wind energy is the biggest, fastest and cheapest way we can cut carbon pollution here in the U.S., and as wind power grows, so will savings for American families and businesses all across the country.”

The industry’s good news comes days after Congress agreed to extend for five years the tax credit for producing wind power, a significant factor in the industry’s growth, while phasing it out over that time.

The last two major milestones in wind power installation, 50 gigawatts and 60 gigawatts, were hit in 2012, when the tax credit was in place.

But it expired at the end of 2013, and was renewed at the end of 2014 only for that year.

As of the November report, there are more than 50,000 wind turbines operating in the United States at more than 980 utility-scale installations in 40 states and Puerto Rico, AWEA said.