Thursday, 3 January 2013

Maine producing enough wind power to supply 175,000 homes
25 Dec 2012

(US) AUGUSTA--Wind power generated in Maine is now producing nearly 500 MWs, enough to supply the average needs of 175,000 households. However, it's still well short of the state's goal for wind generation by 2015. But new projects that are in conceptual stages, under regulatory review or approved but facing challenges could catapult the state to half of its wind-power goal of 2,000 MWs by 2015. The Legislature has set that goal for installed wind power capacity, along with 3,000 MWs by 2020.

Maine's operating wind power plants have a capacity to produce 468 MWs online now, according to figures from the state Department of Environmental Protection, which regulates grid-scale projects in Maine's Unorganized Territory. The year's end brings the possibility of big change to the industry. The federal Production Tax Credit, used to encourage development of renewable energy projects, is due to expire at the end of 2012.

That's caused "very legitimate" concerns among wind power developers, said Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association. "It's a very important piece of development" in wind projects, he said. A national industry group, the American Wind Energy Association, says that with the looming expiration of the credit, wind project developers are not making plans in the United States and American manufacturers are not receiving orders, costing jobs.

Developers' interest does not appear to have waned in Maine, which is by far New England's largest wind producer but accounts for only a small fraction of total U.S, output. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the U.S, wind industry totaled 51,630 MWs of cumulative wind capacity through the end of September.

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