The U.S. wind industry achieved near-record growth in 2016, as the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) was renewed in December 2015 after having expired in January 2015. The PTC is an inflation-adjusted per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for electricity generated by qualifying facilities. The extension included a phase-down approach for wind projects commencing construction after 31 December 2016, providing an incentive to start construction on new wind projects in 2016. Wind power generating capacity now exceeds conventional hydropower capacity in the United States.
The U.S. wind industry also embarked on a new era, as the first offshore wind facility—the 30-MW Block Island wind farm, located off the coast of Rhode Island—began commercial operation. A joint report of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Offshore Wind Strategy, found a technical resource potential of more than 2 TW of offshore wind capacity, capable of generating 7,200 TWh of wind power per year. A DOE-funded report on distributed wind also found a significant addressable resource potential, with 3 TW of capacity capable of generating 4,400 TWh of wind power, greater than current U.S. power consumption.