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United States

Decline faster then predicted

Operating wind power capacity in the state of California fell dramatically during 1995 according to preliminary data from the California Energy Commission (CEC). The decline was more than twice that previously estimated by private industry analysts. Data for 1996 has not yet been compiled.

According to preliminary data released January 15 by Catherine Small of the CEC's Wind Project Performance Reporting System, installed wind capacity fell nearly 110 MW from 1609 MW in 1994 to 1500 MW in 1995. The number of operating wind turbines fell by nearly 1000 machines from 14,577 to 13,581.

Operating wind generating capacity has declined 11% since reaching a peak in 1991. The number of wind turbines in service has declined nearly 20% since 1991. Wind turbines generated 3 TWh in California during 1995 says the CEC's Small, a decline of 6% from a high of 3.2 TWh in 1994.

Industry analysts estimated as late as December 1996 that only 45 MW had been removed or idled in 1995. The CEC's preliminary data illustrates the severe decline in the California wind industry's fortunes. The data also reinforces the importance of the collection of data on the state's once-vibrant wind industry by the CEC's Wind Project Performance Reporting System.

Despite installation of new wind turbines outside California, nationwide installed capacity fell 7% in the US from 1991 through 1996. Total wind capacity fell by a like amount across North America (Canada, Mexico, and the US) during the same period.

A deal of uncertainty surrounds estimates of the number of wind turbines in California that remain in service as of January 1997. It is likely that installed capacity declined an additional 50 MW in 1996 and that the number of operating turbines declined by more than 600 units. This decline has yet to be confirmed.

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