There are currently 9,025 megawatts (MW) of wind projects under construction in the United States and an additional 11,952 MW in advanced development, according to the Wind Energy Association. Texas, the country’s top state for wind power capacity, was the leading location for wind installations in the first quarter, followed by Kansas, New Mexico, North Carolina and Michigan. The U.S. wind industry installed 2,000 MW of capacity in the first quarter, nearly four times the amount installed in the same period last year, as developers race to capture a federal tax credit that is gradually being phased out. The federal production tax credit for wind projects does not expire until 2020.
Starting this year, however, the credit’s value will drop by 20 percent each year for projects that start construction from 2017 through 2019. About a quarter of the megawatts installed in the first quarter are contracted to buyers outside the utility industry, including the U.S. Army and other businesses. A landmark state law signed last summer in Massachusetts will make it the nation’s biggest state commitment to offshore wind to date. Three companies have their eye on the bid to buy long-term contracts for at least 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power in the next decade. Companies have to solicit bids jointly by June 30 for the first project, which must provide at least 400 MW of power. Not until June will interested parties get a glimpse of a timeline for the bidding process. The $113 million state-funded terminal spans 26 acres of waterfront property at 16 Blackmer St., just inside the hurricane barrier.
For the first wind project, large turbine components would probably be shipped to the Marine Commerce Terminal, where they would be assembled and perhaps painted. Blades would likely be affixed to the hub at sea and each turbine would have an elevator inside and would require a significant amount of electrical work. Behind the hub of a wind turbine is the nacelle, which houses the generator and sometimes space for a worker to stay overnight. It’s estimated that permitting and financing for the first project would last into 2019. Construction could start around 2021, and if the timeline goes as expected for future rounds to bring the state up to 1,600 MW construction on the second project could start around 2024.