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Despite Wind Catcher's cancellation, US wind pipeline strengthens in Q2'18

While American Electric Power Co. Inc.'s decision to cancel the $4.5 billion Wind Catcher Wind Farm shaved off 2,000 MW from the U.S. wind project development pipeline, the industry saw the pipeline increase by more than 3,000 MW in the second quarter of 2018.

Projects in early and advanced stages of development and under construction increased from 56,731 MW in the first quarter of 2018 to 60,636 MW in the second quarter of 2018, according to an analysis from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Most of the growth came in the early development stage, which now stands at 40,481 MW of capacity.

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More than 76,000 MW of wind capacity is scheduled to come online through 2022 as of Aug. 2. U.S. wind installations for 2019 and 2020 remain peak years for the industry as more than 57,000 MW of capacity is estimated to become operational before the production tax credit phases out after 2019.

AEP's Wind Catcher project had been in the construction stage when the Public Utility Commission of Texas decided on July 26 to deny Southwestern Electric Power Co.'s request for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the project. Instead of downsizing the project in order to move forward with construction, AEP decided to terminate the project.

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Despite the cancellation, the projects in advanced development and under construction still saw a small increase from 19,878 MW in the first quarter to 20,154 MW in the second quarter. S&P Global Market Intelligence considers a wind project to be in advanced development when two of the following five criteria are met: financing is in place, a power purchase agreement is signed, turbines are secured, required permits are approved or a contractor has signed on to the project.

The cancellation does leave only two projects with more than 1,000 MW of capacity in advanced development: Power Company of Wyoming's Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project and Viridis Renewable Energy Corp's Little Medicine Bow Wind Farm (Viridis Eolia Master Plan).

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Overall, the U.S. added 132 MW of wind capacity during the second quarter. It is a drop-off from the same period in 2017 at 553 MW of installed capacity and the previous quarter at 438 MW of installed capacity, though a slow-down in the second quarter of each fiscal year is common.

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Although only one wind farm, Invenergy LLC's Bishop Hill III Wind Farm, came online during the quarter, the project was enough to push the country's cumulative installed capacity pass the 90,000-MW mark. The project also boosted Invenergy's clean energy project portfolio to more than 1,600 MW of installed capacity in the state of Illinois.

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Three wind projects with a combined capacity of 1,155 MW were announced during the second quarter: Apex Clean Energy's Grape Creek Wind Project, MidAmerican Energy Co.'s Orient Wind Farm (Wind XI) and Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners Ltd's Bitter Ridge Wind Farm.

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