America’s wind power industry grew by 15% in 2010 and provided 26% of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S., according to the new American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report.” With the 5,116 MW added last year, U.S. wind installations now stand at 40,181 MW, enough to supply electricity for over 10 million American homes.

“The American wind industry is delivering, despite competing with energy sectors that have permanent government subsidies in place,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the AWEA. “Wind is consistently performing, adding 35% of all new generating capacity since 2007-that’s twice what coal and nuclear added combined.”

Statistics from the report reveal that wind continues to be an important player in the nation’s energy sector, with lower costs competitive with other generation sources; wind is second in new generation capacity only to natural gas.

“It’s simple: Wind is affordable,” said Elizabeth Salerno, director of Data and Analysis and chief economist for the AWEA. “It’s costing less than ever and competing with other sources, thanks to improved turbines built for better performance without a big price tag.”

In addition to wind power’s increased affordability, the 1603 investment tax credit program contributed to new project starts in 2010. On top of new construction starts, 2010 saw new manufacturing as well. The industry brought 14 new manufacturing facilities online, consistent with 2009.

“Continued interest and investment by manufacturers in America demonstrates that the U.S. continues to be a global powerhouse for wind development, today and in the future,” Bode said. “With these new investments, wind energy is now up to 20,000 manufacturing jobs across 42 states.”

The U.S. wind market entered 2011 with 5,600 MW under construction-more than twice the megawatts under construction at the start of 2010. The extension of the 1603 tax credit in December 2010 provided a signal to investors to continue growing wind in the U.S., as this strong performance indicates.

However, the U.S. remains reliant on a few conventional energy sources and needs to further diversify its energy portfolio, according to Bode. “We remain on track to produce 20% of America’s electricity by 2030 with wind, as laid out by the Department of Energy during the Bush Administration,” she said. “We know wind is ready to deliver even more of our portfolio with clean, affordable, homegrown power.”

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