By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
The American Wind Energy Association released its annual rankings of industry leaders today, showing that the nation’s wind production companies and turbine manufacturers are growing at warp speed, creating thousands of jobs and helping top wind states provide millions of households with clean energy.
First the states: Texas leads the nation with the ability to produce electricity from wind with 7,118 Megawatts of power capacity, or enough to provide 1.75 million homes in electricity.
The Lone Star state is followed by Iowa (2,791 Megawatts of wind capacity); California (2,517 Megawatts); Minnesota (1,754 Megawatts); Washington (1,447 Megawatts) and Oregon and Colorado (each with just over 1,000 Megawatts).
All together, wind installations were able to provide 25,300 MW of power by the end of 2008 and that is expected to grow in 2009 — with wind capable of powering 7 million “average American homes,” according to the AWEA.
Indiana and Michigan are growing fastest in wind, with Indiana moving from zero capacity to 131 Megawatts of capacity.
Ten new manufacturing facilities came online; 17 were expanded and 30 newly planned operations were announced in 2008, according to the AWEA. These investments affect 24 states, from Pennsylvania and New York to Oregon and Montana, with several Midwest and Southern states also involved in wind and wind equipment production.
The wind association estimates that 85,000 people are now employed in the industry, a 70 percent increase from a year ago, making wind a more powerful recession salvo than many realize.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
As for the companies that run these wind projects, NextEra Energy Resources, with wind offices in Minnesota, is the top “project owner” with 6,290 Megawatts in wind power assets — or roughly 25 percent of the total installed in the U.S..
Providing the equipment for these projects are GE Energy, which accounts for 43 percent of all the new wind capacity installed in the U.S., followed by Vestas (13 percent), Siemens and Suzlon (9 percent each) and Gamesa (7 percent).
Bode said the wind industry needs strong support from Washington to continue its progress forward.
“We need the right policies in place for our industry to maintain its momentum. A national Renewable Electricity Standard, requiring utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025, is vital to provide the long-term, U.S.-wide commitment businesses need to invest tens of billions of dollars in clean energy installations and manufacturing facilities, and create hundreds of thousands of American jobs,” she said.
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