WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New installments of U.S. wind energy in the second quarter of this year fell by more than half from the first quarter as the recession helped cut contracts for new turbines, an industry group said.
New installations totaled about 1,210 megawatts in the second quarter compared with about 2,790 MW in the previous one, the American Wind Energy Association said on Tuesday.
“The recession is a force that is having an effect on the industry, as it is on most other industries,” said a spokeswoman.
Many wind power supply chain companies have stopped hiring or have furloughed employees due to the slowdown in contracts for turbines, AWEA said.
The situation could continue into the third quarter. Just this month Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens decided to postpone plans for building what would have been the largest U.S. wind farm. He blamed bleak credit markets and hurdles in building transmission lines for the decision.
Still, the wind industry added 1,100 MW more in the first half of 2009 than it added in the first six months of 2008.
Wind power remains a “bright spot” during tough economic times, the spokeswoman said, adding that the second quarter had less new capacity added partly because the first quarter had some carry over from 2008.
Some 20 wind power facilities have opened, expanded or been announced since the beginning of the year. Texas added the most capacity in the second quarter, building some 454 MW of wind power.
Installations nudged total U.S. wind power generating capacity to 29,440 MW, AWEA said.
The wind industry hopes the U.S. Senate will pass strong mandates for utilities to generate a certain amount of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar power in the climate bill. In the version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives utilities would have to generate 15 percent of their electricity from such sources.
Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Walter Bagley