US adds record amount of wind power in 2009 -AWEA

* More than 10,000 MW of wind turbines installed in U.S.

* Total capacity hit 35,000 MW, about 1.8 pct of power mix

NEW YORK, April 8 (BestGrowthStock) – Installations of wind turbine
power hit a record in the United States last year despite the
financial crisis that choked off funding for half the year,
wind power advocates said on Thursday.

More than 10,000 megawatts of wind power capacity, or 5,700
turbines, were installed in 2009, the American Wind Energy
Association said in its annual report, bringing the total
capacity in the United States to 35,000 MW.

That kept the United States in the top spot globally for
wind power, ahead of China and Germany, which each had about
25.8 MW of capacity. One megawatt is enough power for about 800
U.S. households.

The U.S. wind industry has grown 39 percent on average each
of the last five years, and now employs about 85,000 people,
many of them in states that have seen other industries close up
factories in recent years, AWEA said.

“We really are one of the only bright spots out there in
terms of growing the manufacturing centers,” AWEA Chief
Executive Denise Bode told a press conference.

Turbine makers such as Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS.CO: )
Suzlon (SUZL.BO: ) laid off employees in the first half of 2009
as orders slowed to a halt, but activity quickly rebounded
after the federal government set rules that allowed companies
to use U.S. stimulus funds to help support the industry.

“It was a critical part of the success in 2009,” said Don
Furman, senior vice president for development at wind energy
company Iberdrola Renewables, the second largest wind owner in
the country behind FPL Group’s (FPL.N: ) NextEra Energy
Resources.

The federal funds were issued through a grant system that
replaced a tax credit program, allowing developers who had
already built projects to be reimbursed for 30 percent of their
construction costs. That helped offset funds that banks pulled
out of the market when the credit crisis prompted them to halt
lending.

Even with the steady industry growth, wind power generation
reached only 1.8 percent of the country’s total, up from 1.3
percent at the end of 2008, AWEA said. Although, AWEA said it
would cross the 2 percent threshhold this year.

Leading the nation in installed capacity is Texas, with
9,405 MW, followed by Iowa, with 3,679 MW, and California with
2,723 MW.

Even as fast as the U.S. market was growing, China was
catching up quickly, according to Steve Sawyer, secretary
general of the Global Wind Energy Council, and the Asian
country’s energy appetite made it the largest new wind market
in 2009.

Stock Market Report

(Reporting by Matt Daily, Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

US adds record amount of wind power in 2009 -AWEA