Annual U.S. Wind Power Rankings Track Industry’s Rapid Growth

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently released its annual rankings of wind energy development in the U.S. citing more than 2,400 megawatts (MW) of new power generation was installed, representing an investment of about $4 billion.

“These wind power rankings tell the story of a vibrant industry that is growing fast, competing hard, gaining market share, and all the while powering a cleaner, stronger America,” said AWEA executive director Randall Swisher. The rankings include the states that generate the most electricity from wind, the nation’s largest wind farms, leading suppliers of wind turbines, largest owners of wind projects, utilities that use the most wind power for their customers, and other industry information. Plus, this year’s rankings include a new category: Congressional districts with most wind power installed. The wind industry installed 1,524 turbines in 2006, with a total generating capacity of 2,454 MW, bringing the average capacity to 1.6 MW. With 764 units installed, the GE Energy 1.5-MW is still the most widely installed. The second most widely installed in 2006 is the Siemens 2.3-MW, with 249 units installed. Largest wind turbines installed were from Vestas, Siemens, Gamesa and Suzlon. In states with most wind energy installed, by capacity, Texas is the leader in wind power development, with more than 2,700 MW installed at the end of 2006 and some 1,000 MW currently under construction. Washington moves into fifth place (ahead of Oklahoma) with the addition of Big Horn and Wild Horse. Iowa and Minnesota look likely to break the 1,000 MW mark in 2007. Washington will come close, with the 140-MW Marengo project currently under construction. Largest wind farms operating in the U.S.: Horse Hollow, TX (736 MW) — FPL Energy; Maple Ridge, NY (322 MW) — PPM Energy/Horizon Wind Energy; Stateline, OR & WA (300 MW) — FPL Energy; King Mountain, TX (281 MW) — FPL Energy; Sweetwater, TX (264 MW) — Babcock & Brown/Catamount. Among utilities, Xcel Energy is in the lead after moving ahead of Southern California Edison last year. Xcel Energy is committed to increasing its use of renewable power throughout its eight-state service territory, according to the utility. MidAmerican Energy, which includes MidAmerican in the Midwest and PacifiCorp in the Northwest, moves into third place, with the acquisition in 2006 of several large facilities. A long-term extension of the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) is crucial to sustain this growth. 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.
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