A mighty wind

Wind power generating capacity in the US increased by 27% in 2006 and is expected to increase an additional 26% in 2007, according to a report released by the American Wind Energy Association.


Wind power generating capacity in the US increased by 27% in 2006 and is expected to increase an additional 26% in 2007, according to a report released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).



According to AWEA, wind’s exponential growth reflects the US’s increasing demand for clean, safe and domestic energy, and continues to attract both private and public sources of capital.



‘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.



The US wind energy industry installed 2,454 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity in 2006, an investment of approximately $4bn, billing wind as one of the largest sources of new power generation in the country (second only to natural gas) for the second year in a row.



New wind farms are said to have boosted cumulative US installed wind energy capacity by 27% to 11,603 MW, well above the 10,000-MW milestone reached in August 2006. One megawatt of wind power produces enough electricity to serve 250 to 300 homes on average each day.



According to the report, wind energy facilities currently installed in the US will produce an estimated 31 billion kilowatt-hours annually or enough electricity to serve 2.9 million homes. This source of electricity will displace approximately 23 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, which would otherwise be emitted by coal, natural gas, oil and other traditional energy sources.



Wind power has also attracted the support of state and federal government legislatures. The US Congress recently extended the federal production tax credit (PTC) through to December 2008 to further expand the number of wind farms throughout the US. Based on the success of the PTC to date, AWEA is calling for extending the provision an additional five years.



‘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.”


A state-by-state listing of existing and proposed wind energy projects is available on AWEA’s Web by clicking here.