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AWEA reports strongest Q1 for wind installations since 2012

Thefirst three months of 2016 saw the most installations of new wind powercapacity than any first quarter since 2012, according to the American WindEnergy Association's latest quarterly market report.

The windsector installed 520 MW across the country, with Oklahoma leading the pack at270 MW installed, followed by Iowa with 154 MW, Utah with 62 MW and New Mexicowith 32 MW.

About64% of these new wind facilities were built with a signed power purchase agreementin place, according to AWEA's data. Another 20% are directly owned by a utilityor another power supplier. Only 6% of the facilities were pursued on a merchantbasis. The report noted that percentage is lower than in previousquarters, but can be explained by the fact that Texas — home to the most windfacilities in general but also particularly heavy on merchant wind — did notsee any new wind projects come online in the quarter.

Still,at nearly 5,500 MW, Texas led the nation in terms of projects with ongoingconstruction or development activity, out of over 15,200 MW nationwide.

Firstquarters are historically quieter for wind development, however. AWEA's datasuggests that most wind projects tend to come online in the fourth quarter.

AWEArecently reported itsdata on the wind industry in 2015, finding that wind made up more new capacitythat year than any other power source.

The results were less positive for actual wind production in2015. The amount of electricity generated by wind last year represented thesmallest increase in wind generation on a percentage basis since 1999, the U.S.Electricity Administration said April 21. Weather patterns in the western U.S. "loweredwind speeds and dampened wind generation during the first half of the year,"according to the agency. A large share of new capacity installed in 2015 alsocame online in the fourth quarter, limiting its production.

In total, wind production reached 191,000 GWh during 2015,accounting for 4.7% of net U.S. electric power generation.