Texas still tops in wind and no one is surprised

The novelty of the home of “Big Oil” also being Ground Zero for “Big Wind” has worn off a bit since Texas overtook California as the top wind producing state waaaay back in 2007. But just to prove the state is no flash in the pan on renewables Texas continues to widen it’s lead:

The American Wind Energy Association reported Monday that Texas’ 7,118 megawatts of wind power generation capacity as of the end of 2008 far outstrips that of any other state. Iowa, with 2,791 megawatts — slightly less than 40 percent of Texas’ capacity — has moved past California as the No. 2 wind state.

How’d we do it? When we deregulated the state’s power markets (beginning with legislation passed back in 1999) lawmakers included a renewable portfolio standard that essentially required retail electric providers and utilities to buy a certain percentage of their power from renewable sources. West Texas in particular has a lot of wind and open land, so add in a little federal production tax credit, an open wholesale power market and you’ve got a building boom in wind turbines. Things have slowed down a bit with the overall economic downturn and credit crunch, but new projects continue to percolate.
Here’s the Austin American-Statesman’s version of the AP story with a nice graphic next to it. And here’s a map summarizing projects by state.
A few more highlights from the American Wind Energy Association’s annual report :

• Oregon moved into the 1,000-MW club, which now counts seven states. The others are Texas, Iowa, California, Minnesota, Washington and Colorado.

• Indiana ranked as the state with the fastest growth rate, expanding installations from zero to 131 MW, followed by Michigan (48 percent), Utah (21 percent), New Hampshire (17 percent) and Wisconsin (6 percent).

• Two states — Minnesota and Iowa – – now get more than 7 percent of their power needs from wind. Minnesota ranks first in this list (7.48 percent), followed closely by Iowa (7.1 percent). The rest of the top five are Colorado, North Dakota, and New Mexico.

• Ten new manufacturing facilities came online, 17 were expanded, and 30 were announced in 2008, according to AWEA estimates. These investments and announcements span 24 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Tennessee, Wisconsin, South Carolina, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Illinois, Alabama, Ohio, Indiana, Montana, Texas, Minnesota, Idaho, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Massachusetts.

• Approximately 85,000 people are employed in the wind industry today–a 70 percentincrease from 50,000 a year ago–and hold jobs in areas as varied as turbine component manufacturing, construction and installation of wind turbines, wind turbine operations and maintenance, legal and marketing services, and more.

• NextEra Energy Resources remains atop the list of project owners, with 6,290 MW of wind power assets, roughly 25 percent of the total installed in the U.S. The three companies that make up the next 25 percent are Iberdrola Renewables, MidAmerican Energy (including PacifiCorp), and Horizon-Energia de Portugal.

• GE Energy turbines accounted for 43 percent of all new capacity installed in the U.S. in 2008. The rest of the top five include Vestas, which accounted for 13 percent, Siemens and Suzlon at 9 percent each, and Gamesa at 7 percent. Several new companies–Acciona, REPower, Fuhrlander, DeWind and AWE–entered the U.S. market in 2008.

• The wind power generating fleet of over 25,300 MW in place as of December 31,2008 will generate an estimated 73 billion kWh in 2009, enough to serve the equivalent of close to 7 million average U.S. homes.

And this Friday will be the ribbon cutting for the second of two huge wind projects south of Corpus Christi. The Peñascal Wind Power Project, a project of Spanish wind giant Iberdrola will serve CPS Energy of San Antonio and South Texas Electric Cooperative. Opponents of the project have cited the potential impact on migrating bird populations, which the project managers say they can limit through ongoing studies and an onsite radar system — which will also be on display during the open house even from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Kenedy Ranch Museum, 200 East La Parra Avenue, Sarita.