But the industry's growth depends on renewal of a federal production tax credit for renewable energy that will expire in December 2008. If Congress does not extend the tax credit, there is no national renewable electricity standard or other long-term policy in place to help the country face the twin challenges of climate change and growing energy demand.
American Wind Energy Association Executive Director Randall Swisher says, "A national long-term policy to promote renewable energy, like the Renewable Electricity Standard approved by the House of Representatives in August, is essential for wind and other renewable energy industries to grow successfully and cost-effectively."
"The U.S. wind energy industry urges congressional leaders and the president to work together and bring to the finish line energy legislation that extends the production tax credit and establishes a national standard for renewable electricity," he said on behalf of the industry association.
"In addition to strengthening energy security and fighting global warming, more wind power and renewables will help stabilize electricity costs, and will create economic opportunity in both industrial and rural America."
The U.S. wind energy industry is on track to complete installations totallng 4,000 megawatts in 2007, surpassing its 2006 record of 2,454 MW, and generating enough new electricity to power the equivalent of over one million homes.
One megawatt of wind power produces enough electricity on average to serve 250 to 300 American homes.
Windy Texas again added the largest amount of new wind power generation - 600 MW.
Colorado installed 264 MW and now ranks as the state with the sixth largest amount of wind power generation.
Washington, with 140 MW of new wind capacity, pulls ahead of Minnesota into 4th place.
Missouri's first utility scale wind farm, Bluegrass Ridge, is located near King City in Gentry County. (Photo courtesy Associated Electric Cooperative)
Missouri saw the completion of its first utility-scale wind farm, a 56.7-MW project that generates power for electric cooperatives in the region and that makes Missouri the state with the 21st largest amount of wind power now installed.
Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Iowa also saw the completion of utility-scale projects this year.
More utilities are planning new wind installations every month. On October 30, OGE Energy Corp. chief exectuive Pete Delaney announced that Oklahoma Gas and Electric would quadruple the company's wind power production to about 770 megawatts and help open western Oklahoma for development of more wind power projects.
"We know from our existing wind power program that many of our customers are interested in using power generated from renewable sources," said Delaney.
Delaney stressed that timely wind power development is dependent on getting transmission lines in place to be able to transmit the power from remote western parts of the state to population centers where the power is needed.
Wind power is delivering a generous return on the public investment of the production tax credit, says Swisher.
Lower pollution costs, and growing income for communities in which wind farms are installed are accompanied by a wave of investment in manufacturing facilities and services across the country, he says, including in states that do not have a large wind resource.
All states have wind power installations with the exception of the southeastern states from Maryland to Louisiana, the Midwestern states of Indiana and Kentucky and in the southwest, Arizona and Nevada.
For a list of projects completed in the third quarter of 2007, listing of states by capacity installed, and additional market information see http://www.awea.org/projects/
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.