Washington, D.C., August 1, 2006 — Texas for the first time supplanted historic leader California as the top state in cumulative wind power capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Second Quarter Market Report.
The report also shows that U.S. developers brought online a capacity total of 822 megawatts (MW) in the first half of the year. With the growth, the U.S.’s cumulative wind power capacity surged to 9,971 MW.
The Texas cumulative total now stands at 2,370 MW of capacity followed by California’s 2,323 MW. Texas edged ahead of California by adding a total of 375 MW, about half of the total amount installed in the country since the beginning of the year.
California has led the nation in installed wind capacity uninterruptedly for nearly 25 years, ever since the first wind farms were built there in late 1981, and at one time the Golden State was host to more than 80 percent of the wind capacity in the entire world, said AWEA.
While Texas took the capacity crown from the perennial leader, development activity in California has not been dormant, with PPM Energy’s (PPM) 150-MW Shiloh Wind Project in Solano County and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s 24-MW project near Rio Vista coming online earlier in the year.
Developers continue their steady advance in project activity while the industry confronts a series of inevitable challenges, one being the interplay between wind turbines and military radar. However, AWEA forecasts that the industry remains on track to install more than 3,000 MW of new wind capacity, which would eclipse the previous record of 2,431 MW set in 2005. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that slightly less than 10,000 MW of new natural gas plants will be brought online in 2006, and that less than 400 MW of new coal and oil fired generating plants will be added, making wind power second only to natural gas in new capacity and new power generation for the second year in a row.
At WINDPOWER 2006, AWEA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and National Renewable Energy Laboratory committed to develop an action plan focused on providing up to 20% of the nation’s electricity from clean, renewable wind energy, the potential of which was highlighted in the Advanced Energy Initiative released by President George W. Bush in February. The process will solicit input from key stakeholders including environmental groups, utilities, policy planners, investors, educators, communities, and others, with the action plan being unveiled at the WINDPOWER 2007 Conference & Exhibition in Los Angeles.
To reach the 20% benchmark and for the strong industry growth to continue even in the short term, the federal production tax credit, which expires at the end of 2007, needs to be extended in a timely fashion before it expires; furthermore, a long-term extension is needed to allow wind energy businesses to operate and invest in a stable environment and to further reduce costs, said AWEA.
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