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Oklahoma, national wind farm construction boom underway with expiration of tax credit

The expiration of the wind production tax credit led to a record amount of wind capacity under construction by the Dec. 31 deadline. But the wind industry fears another bust if the credit isn't renewed.
by Paul Monies Modified: January 31, 2014 at 3:00 pm •  Published: January 30, 2014

A year-end rush to get projects started has resulted in a record number of wind farms under construction across the nation's midsection, a trade group said Thursday.

The Dec. 31 expiration of the federal production tax credit for renewable energy led to more than 12,300 megawatts of wind projects under construction by the end of the year. Another 5,000 megawatts of capacity are under long-term contracts and have yet to start construction, the American Wind Energy Association said in its fourth-quarter market report.

Congress let the credit expire at the end of 2012, but quickly renewed it and changed the rules so wind developers could start construction by the end of 2013 to qualify. Projects previously had to be producing electricity by the deadline to qualify.

“We knew when the PTC (production tax credit) rules came out early in the year that there would be a fairly powerful response from the industry ramping activity back up to qualify,” said Liz Salerno, the association's vice president of data and analysis. “The response we've seen in those numbers is pretty incredible.”

The under-construction rush was tempered by just 1,084 megawatts of wind capacity coming into production in 2013, a drop of 92 percent from the 13,131 megawatts installed in 2012. One megawatt can power about 200 homes during peak times.

Oklahoma developers didn't finish any wind farms in 2013, but the state remains in sixth place for wind capacity with 3,134 megawatts. Two Oklahoma wind farms began construction in the fourth quarter: TradeWind Energy's 141-megawatt Osage County development and Enel Green Power NA's 150-megawatt Origin wind farm in Murray and Carter counties.

Prices power farms

Public Service Co. of Oklahoma signed three power-purchase agreements for nearly 600 megawatts of wind from three new projects to be constructed in Oklahoma. Several out-of-state utilities — including those in Georgia, Arkansas, Nebraska and Texas — also took advantage of low prices and signed long-term contracts totaling 700 megawatts with Oklahoma wind developers.

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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