Not Gone With The Wind: Wind Power Capacity Expected To Increase

Industry saw a 27 percent increase in new capacity in 2006 and a 26 percent increase is expected for 2007.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) forecast, wind power generating capacity was up 27 percent and should increase another 26 percent in 2007, due to increased demand for environmentally-friendly domestic energy.

“iPods, flat screen televisions and other highly sought technologies are creating a demand for electricity that is beginning to eclipse our current supply. Wind is a proven, cost-effective source of energy that also alleviates global warming and enhances our nation’s energy security,” said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher.

Wind energy, which is second to natural gas as a leading alternative energy, added 2,454MW of capacity last year, with an investment of nearly $4 billion, according to AWEA.

For 2006, capacity reached 11,603MW. Just one megawatt of wind power is enough to power 250 to 300 homes daily, AWEA noted.

AWEA said that the current wind energy capacity in the U.S. can produce approximately 31 billion kilowatt-hours per year, which would be enough to provide energy for 2.9 million homes and displace 23 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Wind energy is also being supported by the government, as Congress has extended the federal production tax credit (PTC) through December 2008 to increase the number of wind farms. AWEA seeks to extend the PTC for another 5 years. In Tuesday's State of the Union address, President Bush is expected to focus attention on wind power as a viable alternative energy source, which, along with ethanol and solar power, will help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

“The industry has demonstrated a generous return on the investment of both private and public investment in wind,” said Swisher. “Extending the PTC five years will significantly increase the progress America is making in expanding its use of new forms of energy when they’ve never been needed more.”

Other key facts from the study include:

* Texas replaced California for cumulative installed capacity
* Much of the new wind equipment was manufactured in Iowa, Minnesota and Pennsylvania
* Twenty states had new utility-scale turbines installed
* The top five states for new installations were Texas, with 774MW; Washington, with 428MW; California, with 212MW; New York, with 185MW; and Minnesota, with 150MW

AWEA is the national trade association for the U.S. wind energy industry and its members include trubine manufacturers, wind project developers, utilities and academicians.

For more information on wind power projects, click here.

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