The first quarter (Q1) of 2012 was the most productive yet for the US wind industry, installing 52% more megawatts than Q1 2011.
Developers are racing to get projects in the ground before the Production Tax Credit expires at the end of this year.
1695 megawatts (MW) of new wind capacity was installed in Q1 - 788 turbines in 17 states. The turbines were mostly manufactured in the US, says the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) in its first quarter market report.
The US total now stands at 48,611 MW, after growing 31% in 2011.
There are 8916 MW of wind plants under construction in 31 states and Puerto Rico.
And with advancing wind technology, the industry is able to site turbines in low wind areas, considered inadequate for wind just a few years ago. The trend is reflected in the states with the most growth in Q1: New Hampshire, Arizona, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Oregon.
Wind power contributed 35% of all new electric generating capacity between 2007-2011, and employs 75,000 people in the US.
"The last five years have been marked by unprecedented policy stability, and in response wind power has delivered," says Denise Bode, AWEA CEO .
It's time for Congress to extend the Production Tax Credit, which the wind industry relies on. If it's extended, the industry is projected to grow to 100,000 wind jobs in just four years - if it's allowed to expire, the industry will contract by 37,000 jobs.
Facing the threat of the PTC expiring, wind project developers have become hesitant to plan future U.S. projects and American manufacturers have seen a marked decrease in orders.
The wind industry is facing the recurrence of the boom-bust cycle it saw in previous years when the PTC was allowed to expire. In the years following expiration, installations dropped between 73%-93%, resulting in major job losses.