Wind energy leaders in most categories held onto their No. 1 positions in the latest version of the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual rankings of wind power leadership in the United States.
The new listings, based on numbers compiled at the end of 2007, closely resemble those from 2006, with Texas tops among states in both total and new wind power, FPL Energy operating the nation’s largest wind farms, GE Energy capturing the largest U.S. market share for wind turbines, and Xcel Energy boasting more wind on its system than any other investor-owned utility.
However, a broadening of categories this year revealed some new front-runners: Iowa leads the nation in wind generation on a percentage basis, obtaining 5.5 percent of its electricity from the renewable energy source; while Great River Energy and CPS Energy led the pack among rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, respectively. Turbines built by manufacturer Vestas, meanwhile, are the largest installed in the United States.
“As a clean, domestic renewable energy source, wind power is a key part of the solution to many of the most serious economic, environmental and energy security problems our country faces,” said Randall Swisher, AWEA executive director. “The numbers in this year’s rankings also underscore the wind energy industry’s strong growth and the fact that wind is a bright spot in the U.S. economy.
With total installed U.S. wind power capacity now at more than 16,800 MW, enough to serve the equivalent of 4.5 million average households, wind was the second largest source of the nation’s new electrical capacity, behind only natural gas, for the past three years.
AWEA credits the industry’s expansion to the stability of the renewable energy production tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of 2008. Previous short-term extensions have led to a boom-and-bust cycle in the wind industry, increasing costs along the entire supply chain and preventing businesses from growing to their full potential. However, studies indicate that an expiration of the tax credit will place $19 billion in renewable energy investment and 116,000 American jobs at risk.
To see AWEA’s full report, visit www.awea.org.