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CNN Fact Check: Wind energy breezes into the record books

By Emily Smith, CNN
February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 2012 was wind energy industry's biggest year
  • Industry was helped by tax credit from 2009 stimulus

(CNN) -- The statement:

"Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let's generate even more."

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama talked up alternative energy. Not only did Obama tout the solar and natural gas industries' recent gains, he also talked up the amount of wind energy that's now fueling the country.

Did turbines do their jobs, or is this all just hot air?

The facts:

Watch Obama's State of the Union speech
GOP responds to the State of the Union
Rand Paul responds to State of the Union

According to the American Wind Energy Association, 2012 was the industry's strongest year. In total, more than 60,000 megawatts of wind-powered electric capacity were produced. That's enough to power almost 15 million homes. 2012 also saw wind energy providing about 42% of all new electric generating capacity, another first for the industry.

More fact checks: Immigration | Obamacare | Gas mileage

Impressive stats aside, the wind energy sector had a little help from the Obama administration in the form of a tax credit from the 2009 economic stimulus package. That credit was set to expire at the end of 2012, and U.S. utilities rushed to get their wind projects online.

The December deadline fueled an increase in wind power capacity: 5,300 megawatts were added in December alone, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. By comparison, it took the previous 11 months to generate 7,300 megawatts.

Conclusion:
True, thanks in part to a last-minute rush when the industry was up against a looming deadline.

CNN's Matt Smith contributed to this report

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