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US wind activity stays stagnant in Q3

Wind activity in the U.S. was quiet during the third quarter, after capacity additions and the project development pipeline saw modest changes in the period.

The U.S. added 596 MW of wind capacity in the third quarter, up 2.4% from the same period in 2017 and more than double from the second quarterof 2018, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis. Domestic cumulative capacity reached 90,497 MW in the third quarter.

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The largest project completed during the third quarter was the 199-MW unit of the Persimmon Wind Farm in Woodward, Okla. The project's second phase, a 165-MW wind energy facility, is in the early stages of development. Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners Ltd. has a 75% stake in the Persimmon Wind Farm. Acek Desarrollo Y Gestion Industrial SL owns 25% of the project through wind energy subsidiary Gestamp Wind North America Inc.

The seven utility-scale wind projects completed in the third quarter spread coast-to-coast; in addition to Oklahoma, they are in California, Nebraska, New York and Texas.

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Only one domestic, utility-scale project was announced in the third quarter: the Ajax Wind Project, a 630-MW wind facility in Wilbarger, Texas. The project is being developed by Lincoln Clean Energy LLC, an Illinois-based company that Danish firm Ørsted A/S purchased earlier in 2018 for $580 million to kick-start its onshore wind footprint in the U.S.

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"The build out of our U.S. onshore wind portfolio is also progressing according to plan," Ørsted CEO Henrik Poulsen said during the company's Nov. 1 earnings call. "By the end of the year, Lincoln Clean Energy will thus have an operational onshore wind capacity of 813 MW."

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Projects in early and advanced stages of development and under construction fell from 60,636 MW in the second quarter to 58,253 MW in the third quarter. S&P Global Market Intelligence considers a 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.

When including announced projects, more than 74,000 MW of wind capacity is scheduled to come online through 2022 in the U.S. Much of that comes from projects slated to come online in 2019 and 2020, when 24,401 MW and 31,344 MW of wind power capacity, respectively, is estimated to come into commercial operation.

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The list of the largest projects in advanced development or under construction remained almost identical to the previous quarter. NextEra Energy Inc.'s 500-MW Wheatridge Wind Energy Facility in Morrow, Ore., is now listed as a project in the early stage of development, though its commercial operation date is still estimated for 2023.

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