Washington D.C.-based American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently reported that the U.S. wind energy industry installed 1,649MW of new power-generating capacity in the third quarter — an amount higher than either the second quarter of 2009 or the third quarter of 2008 — bringing the total capacity added this year to date to over 5,800MW. AWEA also reported that wind turbine manufacturing still lags below 2008 levels, in both production and new announcements.

"Wind power installations are up, and that is good news for America's economy, environment, and energy security," says AWEA CEO Denise Bode. "But manufacturing, which has the potential to employ many more Americans in good, clean energy jobs, remains uncertain. A firm, long-term national commitment to renewable energy is still needed for the United States to become a wind turbine manufacturing powerhouse and create hundreds of thousands of jobs."

Since the early July announcement of rules to implement the stimulus bill, the wind industry has seen over 1,600MW (enough to serve the equivalent of 480,000 average households) of completed projects, and over 1,700MW of construction starts. These projects equate to about $6.5 billion in new investment. AWEA does not expect the fourth quarter of 2009 to be as strong as the fourth quarter of 2008, because the 5,000MW now under construction is nearly 38% lower than the over 8,000MW under construction at this time last year.

The total wind power capacity now operating in the United States is over 31,000MW, generating enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 9 million homes, avoiding the emissions of 57 million tons of carbon annually and reducing expected carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2.5%.

The state posting the fastest growth rate in the third quarter was Arizona, which installed its first utility-scale project. Pennsylvania ranked second in growth with 29%, followed by Illinois with 22%, Wyoming with 21%, and New Mexico with 20%.

The full third-quarter report is available as a pdf on the AWEA Web site.