In 2008 U.S. wind energy grew by over 8,500 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity, increasing the nation’s cumulative total by 50% to over 25,300 MW, pushing the U.S. above Germany as the country with the largest amount of wind power capacity installed, according to a new report from the American Wind Energy Assocation (AWEA). Iowa surged past California into second place in the U.S. adding nearly 1600 MW to more than double its wind power generating capacity, with Texas still the leader in wind project capacity.
The top five states in terms of capacity installed are:
- Texas, with 7,118 MW
- Iowa, with 2,791 MW
- California, with 2,517 MW
- Minnesota , with 1,754 MW
- Washington, with 1,447 MW
Both Iowa and Minnesota now get over 7% of their electricity needs from wind, with Minnesota ranking first with 7.48% followed closely by Iowa with 7.1%. Oregon moved into the club of states with more than 1,000 MW installed, which now numbers seven: Texas, Iowa, California, Minnesota, Washington, Colorado, and Oregon.
"The wind energy industry today generates not only clean energy for our economy, but also hope and opportunity for American workers and businesses,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “Whether it is building or maintaining a wind project, or producing wind turbine components, you’ll find people employed in wind power in nearly all 50 states today."
Wind projects boost local tax bases, helping to pay for schools, roads and hospitals, according to the report. Wind projects also revitalize the economy of rural communities by providing steady income to farmers and other landowners. Each wind turbine contributes $3,000 to $5,000 or more per year in rental income, while farmers continue to grow crops or graze cattle up to the foot of the turbines.
The American Wind Energy Association Annual Wind Industry Report for 2008 is available at the AWEA web site.