Wind power capacity surpassed hydro in 2016

Capacity for wind power in the U.S. in 2016 surpassed hydroelectricity, the typical dominant source of renewable energy in the country.

While wind power capacity has increased, hydro power generation is still expected to exceed wind generation this year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Yet wind continues to account for more and more of the nation’s power. On Feb. 17, the Southwest Power Power regional electric system — one of seven that provides power to two-thirds of the country — broke a record for wind power generated. The system stretches from Texas to Montana and to North Dakota, and in the early hours of that day wind accounted for more than 50 percent of the system’s power.

In Texas, wind power has long dominated hydro as a major source of electricity and is the state’s third major source of power, following natural gas and coal.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees 90 percent of the state’s power grid, frequently breaks records for wind power generated. The last record was set on Dec. 25, 2016, when wind accounted for more than 47 percent of the grid’s power.