Wind power sector adds 485 MW in first quarter

Of the 485 MW of wind power capacity that came online in the first quarter of 2014, the largest unit was the 138 MW Alta Wind X WT AW10 in Kern County, Calif.

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With 26 percent growth from the year-ago quarter, the wind energy industry installed 485 MW of wind power capacity in the first quarter of 2014. After a year with just 1,124 MW installed in 2013, 7,589 MW of wind power capacity is now under construction, according to SNL Energy.

Additional capacity not included in that value likely met the 5 percent project cost safe harbor in order to qualify for the production tax credit before its expiration at the end of 2013.

Although the Internal Revenue Service clarified the "continuous efforts" language in the now-expired PTC extension, developers are still expressing uncertainty about the "physical work of a significant nature" language used in the bill, and some investors are waiting for more guidance before committing additional funds to projects.

Of the 485 MW of wind power capacity that came online in the first quarter of 2014, the largest unit was the 138 MW Alta Wind X WT AW10 in Kern County, Calif. The 48-turbine project is owned by ArcLight Capital Holdings LLC unit ArcLight Capital Partners LLC, and Global Infrastructure Management. Edison International unit Southern California Edison Co. has a 25-year power purchase agreement with the facility for its entire capacity.

Alta Wind X is one of 12 wind farms in the larger Alta Wind Energy Center. Of those farms, 11 are now operating with a combined capacity of 1,548 MW; the 12th, the 180-MW Alta Wind XIII, is in early development — meaning that it has begun the permitting process — and is slated to come online in January 2019. Southern California Edison also has a PPA with Alta Wind XIII for 20 years.

The second-largest wind unit that came online in the first quarter was the 94-MW Orangeville Wind Farm WT 1 in Wyoming County, N.Y. Owned by Invenergy LLC unit Invenergy Wind LLC, the 58-turbine installation was estimated to cost $175 million.

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