August 4, 2006
Texas for the first time supplanted historic leader California as the top state in cumulative wind power capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) second quarter market report.
Texas' cumulative total now stands at 2,370 megawatts (MW) of capacityenough to power more than 600,000 average American homesfollowed by California's 2,323 MW.
It's a historic moment. California has led the nation in installed wind capacity uninterruptedly for nearly 25 years, ever since the first wind farms were built there in late 1981. At one time the Golden State was host to more than 80 percent of the wind capacity in the entire world. However, energy and electricity prices tanked during the global oil glut of the 1980s, putting California 's wind power boom on hold.
The report also shows that U.S. developers brought online a capacity total of 822 megawatts (MW) in the first half of the year. With the strong growth, the U.S.'s cumulative wind power capacity surged to 9,971 MWwithin close striking distance of the 10-gigawatt (10,000-MW) milestone.
But Texas by no means has been the lone state busy developing wind power projects.
In fact, while Texas took the capacity crown from the perennial state leader, development activity in California has not exactly been dormant, with PPM Energy's 150-MW Shiloh Wind Project in Solano County and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's 24-MW project near Rio Vista coming online earlier in the year.
AWEA forecasts that the industry remains on track to install more than 3,000 MW of new wind capacity, which would decisively eclipse the previous record of 2,431 MW set in 2005.
U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates slightly less than 10,000 MW of new natural gas plants will be brought online in 2006, making wind power second only to natural gas in new capacity and new power generation for the second year in a row.