Wind Power Surges AheadBig Economic Benefits From Open Space
nstallations of new wind projects and repowering of old ones should total more than 1,000 megawatts (MW) in the U.S. during the year that ended June 30, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) says, amounting to investment of more than $1 billion. 1,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity generates enough electricity in a year to meet the needs of 250,000 average American households.
The trade group made its forecast after reviewing schedules for individual projects that are already installed or under construction, according to AWEA communications director Tom Gray. "At the moment, we see a total of 892 MW of new projects and 181 MW of repowering projects being completed, for a total of 1,073 MW," he said.
The total will easily surpass 1985, when some 400 MW were installed prior to the expiration of the federal energy investment tax credit for wind. The current "wind rush," Gray said, is driven in part by the impending expiration of the wind production tax credit June 30, but also by growing consumer demand for green power and wind energy's steadily improving economics.
The new surge in installed capacity reflects growing acceptance of wind across the country. In 1985, nearly all of the turbines installed went to a single state, California, but 12 states in the Midwest and West are seeing new wind plants this year.
"We are celebrating the revitalization of the American wind market in 1999," said Randall Swisher, Executive Director of AWEA. "By June 30, we are projecting a total domestic wind installed capacity of nearly 2,500 MW."
The largest amount of new capacity, 247 MW, is being built in Minnesota, with Iowa close behind at 240 MW. Texas ranks third with 146 MW, followed by California (117 MW), Wyoming (73 MW), Oregon (25 MW), Wisconsin (23 MW), and Colorado (16 MW). California will also host all 181 MW of repowering projects, in which new, more efficient turbines replace older wind plants.
A clickable map showing new
projects nationwide is available on AWEA's web site at http://www.awea.org/projects/index.html.
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