Texas Now Leader in U.S. Wind Energy

In a forecasted record year for the U.S. wind industry, Texas surpassed California as the leader in wind energy capacity with the addition of 275 megawatts (MW) in 2006, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

The added capacity gives Texas a small lead over California, which had been the leader for the last 25 years. Texas now has a total of 2,370 MW of wind power capacity compared with California’s 2,323 MW. Although the lead is marginal, the announcement is significant because it illustrates how much the industry has changed in recent years. “The news was definitely not a surprise to us,” said Kathy Belyeu, Manager of Industry Information at AWEA, speaking on RenewableEnergyAccess.com’s Inside Renewable Energy podcast. “We could see late last year that Texas was going to surpass California because of the size and number of projects going on in the state.” Belyeu outlined three factors gave Texas a boost: it has the second greatest wind potential in the country, it passed a strong renewable energy portfolio standard and the state’s business climate makes it easier for developers to build projects. The combination of those elements, said Belyeu, will ensure that “quite a few more projects are going to come to fruition in Texas than in California.” But California is not sitting on the sidelines, she said. There are still plenty of developments going on throughout the state, including a 150 MW project that came online earlier in the year. Overall growth in Texas, California and other states is ensuring another record year for the wind industry. Although only 822 MW of capacity have been installed so far in 2006, AWEA projects that 3,000 MW of wind capacity could be added during the remainder of the year. If those projects come to fruition, total U.S. wind capacity could exceed 10 gigawatts (GW) in 2007. For the full interview with AWEA’s Kathy Belyeu and a conversation with Earth Policy Institute Founder Lester Brown, listen to RenewableEnergyAccess.com’s Inside Renewable Energy podcast by clicking the link below.
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I am a reporter with ClimateProgress.org, a blog published by the Center for American Progress. I am former editor and producer for RenewableEnergyWorld.com, where I contributed stories and hosted the Inside Renewable Energy Podcast. Keep in touch through twitter! My profile name is: Stphn_Lacey

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