Wind energy leaders in most categories held onto their #1 positions in the latest version of the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) annual rankings of wind power leadership in the United States.
The new listings, based on numbers compiled at the end of 2007, closely resemble those from the previous year, with Texas tops among states in both total and new wind power, FPL Energy operating the nation's largest wind farms, GE Energy capturing the largest U.S. market share for wind turbines, and Xcel Energy boasting more wind on its system than any other investor-owned utility.
A broadening of categories this year did reveal some new front-runners, though: Iowa leads the nation in wind generation on a percentage basis, obtaining 5.5% of its electricity from the renewable energy source, while Great River Energy and CPS Energy led the pack among rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, respectively. Turbines built by manufacturer Vestas, meanwhile, are the largest installed in the U.S.
With total installed U.S. wind power capacity now over 16,800 MW, or enough to serve the equivalent of 4.5 million average households, wind was the second-largest source of new electrical capacity in the nation, behind only natural gas, for the past three years. AWEA credits the industry's expansion to the stability over the past three years of the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC), which is now set to expire at the end of 2008. Previous short-term extensions have led to a boom-and-bust cycle in the wind industry, increasing costs along the entire supply chain and preventing businesses from growing to their full potential. Studies indicate that an expiration of the tax credit will place $19 billion in renewable energy investment and 116,000 American jobs at risk.