Washington, D.C., Mar. 16, 2006 — The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released its annual industry rankings of wind energy development in the United States. The rankings, which include the leading states for wind energy development, the suppliers of wind energy turbines, and owners and purchasers of wind energy, provide a useful measure of the size and breadth of the American wind energy industry.
The industry easily broke earlier records in 2005, installing over 2,400 megawatts (MW) or over $3 billion worth of new generating equipment in 22 states. The final tally of 2,431 MW boosted the cumulative U.S. installed wind power fleet by over 35%, bringing the industry’s total generating capacity to 9,149 MW, enough to serve the equivalent of 2.3 million homes, said the AWEA.
As President Bush stated recently on his Advanced Energy Initiative tour, “areas with good wind resources have the potential to supply up to 20 percent of the electricity consumption of the United States.”
“Wind energy’s continuing expansion, as reflected in these rankings, provides fresh evidence that it is capable of contributing to the nation’s electricity supply near the level of conventional power sources,” said AWEA executive director Randall Swisher.
The rankings (as of December 31, 2005) include the following:
States with most wind energy installed, by capacity (MW):
#1 California — 2,150 MW
#2 Texas — 1,995 MW
#3 Iowa — 836 MW
#4 Minnesota — 744 MW
#5 Oklahoma — 475 MW
#6 New Mexico — 407 MW
#7 Washington — 390 MW
#8 Oregon — 338 MW
#9 Wyoming — 288 MW
#10 Kansas — 264 MW
Capacity, measured in kilowatts (kW) or megawatts (MW), measures a turbine’s generating potential. A 1.5 MW wind turbine operating in a good wind resource area can be expected to generate over 4 million kWh per year or enough to supply 400 average homes.
As of the end of 2005, California was still the state with the most wind power capacity installed, but Texas gained fast last year, and is expected to overtake California in 2006, said the AWEA. California, where the U.S. wind industry began, has been the state with the largest wind power capacity since electricity generating wind turbines were first installed there in 1981.
Two large projects were installed in Oklahoma in 2005 — the 147-MW Weatherford Wind Energy Center and the 151-MW Blue Canyon II project. Wyoming, which was #5 on last year’s ranking, was overtaken not only by Oklahoma, but also New Mexico (which added 140 MW of wind power in 2005), Washington (added 149 MW), and Oregon (75 MW).
States with most wind energy resource (in billion kWh):
#1 North Dakota — 1,210
#2 Texas — 1,190
#3 Kansas — 1,070
#4 South Dakota — 1,030
#5 Montana — 1,020
Source: An Assessment of the Available Windy Land Area and Wind Energy Potential in the Contiguous United States, Pacific Northwest Laboratory, 1991.
Although California does have some areas with a very good wind resource, as a state, it doesn’t make it into the top 10. The windiest states in the country are, for the most part, in the Great Plains. This list factors in environmental and land use exclusions for wind class of three and higher.
States with a combination of good, developable windy areas and good wind energy policy are attracting the most investment.
Largest wind farms operating in the U.S. (MW):
#1 Stateline, Oregon/Washington — 300 MW
#2 King Mountain, Texas — 278 MW
#3 Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, Texas — 210 MW
#4 New Mexico Wind Energy Center, New Mexico — 204 MW
#5 Storm Lake, Iowa — 193 MW
Wind farms have been getting bigger to take advantage of some economies of scale, said the AWEA. The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Taylor County, TX, joined the ranks of the top five largest single wind farms in 2005. AWEA considers a wind farm to be one project if it is built and owned by the same company or companies and is geographically contiguous.
Leading owners of wind energy installations in the U.S. (MW):
#1 FPL Energy — 3,192 MW
#2 PPM Energy — 518 MW
#3 MidAmerican Energy — 360.5 MW
#4 Caithness Energy — 346 MW
#5 Edison Mission Group — 316 MW
#6 Shell Wind Energy — 315 MW
FPL Energy is still far and away the largest owner of wind energy facilities in the U.S., said the AWEA. The company’s fleet also grew fastest in 2005, adding over 500 MW of new capacity. PPM Energy moved from fifth place last year to second with its addition of nearly 400 MW of new capacity last year. The company has stated a goal of having 2,300 MW of wind generation in operation by 2010.
MidAmerican Energy moved into third place in terms of ownership, leading the way in terms of utilities building and owning wind power for their customers’ use. Edison Mission Group also joined the top five this year.
Caithness Energy, a privately held independent power producer, has increased its ownership of wind power assets over the past few years and now has 100% ownership of 346 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity, making it the fourth largest wind power owner in the U.S. as of the end of 2005. Caithness has been involved in re-powering projects in California (replacing older wind turbines with newer, more efficient technology), and has acquired assets from other developers.
Utilities/power companies that buy the most wholesale wind power (MW purchased):
#1 Xcel Energy purchases the output from 1,048 MW of wind power.
#2 Southern California Edison purchases the output from 1,021 MW of wind power.
#3 Pacific Gas & Electric Co. purchases the output from 680 MW.
#4 PPM Energy purchases the output from 606 MW (for resale).
#5 TXU purchases the output from 580 MW.
For the first time in the recent history of the U.S. wind energy industry, Southern California Edison (SCE) has been overtaken as the largest purchaser of wind energy. Xcel Energy, with operations in Minnesota, Colorado, and Texas, was purchasing power from 1,048 MW of wind power as of the end of 2005, edging out SCE, which was purchasing the output from 1,021 MW of wind. The future competition looks likely to be fierce: Xcel Energy has announced that it intends to purchase the power output from 775 MW of new wind power capacity for its Colorado system by 2007; SCE is now under contract to purchase the output from 393 MW of new wind power capacity when it is built, said the AWEA.
The rollercoaster pattern that wind energy installations have experienced in the last five years is a result of the two year extensions of the eligibility period for the wind energy production tax credit. In 2005, for the first time in the credit’s history, Congress extended the eligibility period before it was allowed to expire, which will allow the industry to use the momentum from 2005 to make this year even bigger, said the AWEA.
Many states are requiring more renewable energy to be built to garner its clean energy and job creation benefits. In addition, utilities are becoming more interested in wind power to diversify their power sources and take advantage of a fuel-free, abundant resource. For all these reasons, installations are expected to top 3,000 MW in 2006, said the AWEA.