After enjoying yet another banner year in 2006, the United States wind power industry is forecasting the trend to continue in 2007.

The American Wind Energy Association reports the installation of 2,454 megawatts of new generating capacity last year. New wind farms increased the nation’s installed capacity by 27 percent to a total of 11,603 megawatts. The number makes the industry the second-largest source of new power generation in the country— behind only natural gas—for the second year in a row.

The AWEA reports a number of other significant developments in 2006. For example, Texas surpassed California as the nation’s leader in wind power-generating capacity. It accounted for nearly one-third of the nation’s new capacity, and it is now home to the world’s single largest wind farm, the 735 MW facility at Horse Hollow.

Texas was not alone. New utility-scale turbines were installed in 20 other states across the country, and new turbine-manufacturing facilities were also open in Iowa, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

All of these developments point to the emergence of wind power as a viable and competitive power source in the nation’s energy markets. According to Randall Swisher, AWEA executive director, wind is now, “a proven, cost-effective source of energy.”     EC