The American wind industry brought online close to 1400 MW of new wind power capacity in the third quarter of 2008, bringing the yearly total to about 4200 MW so far and the overall total in the US to over 21 GW, reports the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). It expects plant commissioning to accelerate up to the end of the year, with fourth quarter installations to be double those in the third quarter. Last year, 2935 MW was commissioned in the last three months of the year. "Another 3000 megawatts for the fourth quarter is not necessarily a stretch," says AWEA's Kathy Belyeu. The drivers for strong growth include the competitive position of wind relative to fossil fuel plants and the lack of fuel price risk with wind, she says. Fear of future environmental penalties on fossil fuel generation is also encouraging investment in wind power. Across the US, 28 states and the District of Columbia now have laws that either mandate or encourage utilities to use renewable energy. The strong markets have been good for business. Eight manufacturing facilities have been opened during the year, nine were expanded and another 19 announcements for facilities were made that if fully built to expectations would create 9000 jobs in the US.