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Nearly 1,500 MW of US wind power capacity added in Q3

In the first three quarters of 2019, 4,251 MW worth of wind power capacity came online in the U.S., making this one of the hottest years on record for the industry, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

Developers are pushing to get projects across the line before the 2020 expiration of the federal production tax credit for wind energy projects. Six projects, totaling 1,491 MW of generation capacity, came online in the third quarter at a combined estimated cost of $2.7 billion.

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That is the strongest third quarter for wind capacity additions since the third quarter of 2015, when 1,901 MW came online. That year, as in 2019, there was uncertainty about whether Congress would extend the tax credit.

Strong construction activity is expected to continue in 2020, with an estimated 45 GW set to be completed, according to company announcements. Some 30 GW of that total is in early development or pre-development.

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Four of the six projects completed in the quarter, totaling 994 MW, were in Texas, which continues to lead the nation in installed wind capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The grid operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which covers most of the state, saw all-time demand records in August, as low margins between power demand and supply forced ERCOT to call for customers to conserve energy.

The largest U.S. wind farm to come online was Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. subsidiary Alterra Power Corp.'s 350-MW Foard City Wind Project in Foard County, Texas. Vistra Energy Corp. agreed to purchase some of the output for 12 years of the project.

Invenergy LLC sold a 75% interest in the 302-MW Santa Rita East Wind Farm (Oveja) in Irion County, Texas, which came online in the third quarter, to American Electric Power Co. Inc. subsidiary AEP Renewables. Invenergy still holds a 25% stake. The wind farm holds virtual power purchase agreements with Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV for 100 MW, Merck & Co. Inc. for 60 MW and Novartis AG for 100 MW.

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In Wilbarger County, Texas, Ørsted A/S subsidiary Lincoln Clean Energy LLC energized its 184-MW Lockett Wind Farm. The Denmark-based Ørsted now has more than 1 GW of operational assets in the U.S.

In Scurry County, Texas, Terna Energy SA, a renewable energy developer headquartered in Greece, energized its 158-MW Gopher Creek Wind Farm (Fluvanna 2).

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Two projects were announced during the quarter. Vineyard Wind LLC, a joint venture of Avangrid Renewables LLC and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners K/S of Denmark, proposed its 1,200-MW Park City Wind Offshore project. On Dec. 5, Connecticut said it had selected the Park City project as part of its solicitation for offshore wind power. The state plans to draw 804 MW from the project.

Park City is the company's second major announced offshore wind project, after the proposed 800-MW Vineyard Offshore Wind Project. Federal regulators have paused the permit approval process for that project, and have not said when they will decide to deny or approve it.

Avangrid Renewables LLC is a subsidiary of Avangrid Inc., whose parent company is Iberdrola SA of Spain. The estimated construction cost for Park City is $6.78 billion, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

Also, Oakland, Calif.-based Orion Renewable Energy Group announced its 150-MW Hart Wind Project in Castro County, Texas. The $270 million project is scheduled to come online in December, 2021.

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Eleven projects, totaling 10.8 GW, are in advanced development or under construction. The estimated construction cost for those projects totals $28.8 billion, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates.

Wyoming, which has fallen behind its neighbors in wind development but is now in the early stages of a surge in activity, has the most capacity in advanced development in the nation, with three projects totaling 5,373 MW.

One of those is set to be the largest onshore wind project in the nation: The $5 billion 3,000-MW Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project in Carbon County, Wyo., is nearing the regulatory finish line after years of planning. Chokecherry and Sierra Madre is being developed by The Anschutz Corp. subsidiary Power Company of Wyoming.

Also in Carbon County, Viridis Renewable Energy Corp is developing the 1,870-MW Little Medicine Bow Wind Farm (Viridis Eolia Master Plan). And construction is under way on Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary PacifiCorp's 503-MW TB Flats I & II Wind Project. TB Flats is scheduled to come online in 2020.