$4 Billion Invested In American Wind Last Year, New Rankings For US Wind Energy Released

wind growth chart (not real data)

Wind continues to rank as one of the largest sources of new power
generation and a mainstream option to meet growing electricity demand

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) today released its annual rankings of wind energy development in the United States. The U.S. wind energy industry installed over 2,400 megawatts (MW) of new power generation in the country, an investment of about $4 billion, making wind one of the largest sources of new power generation in the country at a time of growing electricity demand. Total installed U.S. wind power capacity is over 11,600 MW, or enough to serve the equivalent of 3 million average households.

The rankings include the states that generate the most electricity from wind, the nation’s largest wind farms, leading suppliers of wind turbines, largest owners of wind projects, utilities that use the most wind power for their customers, and other industry information. Following a growing number of inquiries, this year’s rankings also feature a new category: Congressional districts with most wind power installed.

“These wind power rankings tell the story of a vibrant industry that is growing fast, competing hard, gaining market share, and all the while powering a cleaner, stronger America,” said AWEA executive director Randall Swisher. “Our new Congressional district rankings also serve as a reminder of the many benefits that wind power brings to local communities–new jobs, more local revenue, cleaner air, and an essential, home-grown contribution to meeting the challenge of global warming.”

However, a long-term extension of the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) is crucial to sustain this growth. Previous short-term extensions have led to a boom-and-bust cycle in the wind industry, increasing costs along the entire supply chain and preventing businesses from growing to their full potential.

AWEA’s annual rankings provide a standard reference for tracking the growth of wind power in the U.S. The rankings (as of December 31, 2006) are listed below (one megawatt of wind power produces enough electricity on average to serve 250 to 300 homes):

States with most wind energy installed, by capacity (MW)
















Texas is firmly established as the leader in wind power development, with over 2,700 MW installed at the end of 2006 and some 1,000 MW currently under construction. Washington moves into fifth place (ahead of Oklahoma) with the addition of two large projects, Big Horn and Wild Horse. Iowa and Minnesota look likely to break the 1,000 MW mark in 2007. Washington will come close, with the 140-MW Marengo project that is currently under construction there.

Largest wind farms operating in the U.S. (MW)

Wind farm

Size (MW)

Project owner

Horse Hollow, TX


FPL Energy

Maple Ridge, NY


PPM Energy/Horizon Wind Energy

Stateline, OR & WA


FPL Energy

King Mountain, TX


FPL Energy

Sweetwater, TX


Babcock & Brown/Catamount

Horse Hollow, completed in 2006, is the largest single wind farm in operation in the U.S. The portion of Horse Hollow added in 2006 was 1/5 th the total capacity in the country. We are seeing more multi-phase, very large projects, such as Horse Hollow and Maple Ridge. Building large projects in several phases provides time to verify the resource and optimize costs.

Manufacturers’ installed capacity for the past five years(MW)


GE Energy



Mitsubishi Power Systems










GE Energy













GE Energy









GE Energy



NEG Micon2











NEG Micon

GE Energy










The fast-growing U.S. wind market is attracting large new manufacturing companies. GE remains in the lead. Siemens carves out the second-largest market share after entering the market with its acquisition of Bonus in 2004 (Bonus last sold wind turbines in the U.S. in 2002). Another indicator of the heated competition playing out in the U.S. market: fourteen manufacturers, including eight of the world’s top ten, will be exhibiting at the WINDPOWER 2007 Conference & Exhibition.

Top five “managing owners” of wind energy installations (MW)


FPL Energy



PPM Energy



MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.
of which MidAmerican Energy
owns 460 MW and
PacifiCorp 133 MW



Babcock & Brown



Goldman Sachs/Horizon
Wind Energy


FPL Energy continues to dominate the U.S. wind energy market with the construction of 777 MW of new wind power projects in 2006 (about a third of all new installations in the U.S. that year). Wind projects owned by FPL Energy generated more than 9.4 billion kWh of electricity in 2006, according to the company (the average U.S. household uses about 11,000 kWh per year, making 9.4 billion kWh equivalent to powering 850,000 households).

Utilities/power companies with the most wind power on their
system (power purchased or projects owned with the power going
to the utility’s customers) (MW):

Xcel Energy*
with the following on its system:
Public Service Co. of
Colorado – 307.70

Northern States Power – 679.72
Southwestern Public Service – 335.16


Southern California Edison (SCE)

3. MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.(of which MidAmerican Energy owns 572 MW and PacifiCorp 289 MW)*
4. Pacific Gas & Electric (PGE)
5. TXU Energy

Xcel Energy is again in the lead after moving ahead of Southern California Edison last year. Xcel Energy is committed to increasing its use of renewable power throughout its eight-state service territory, according to the utility. MidAmerican Energy, which includes MidAmerican in the Midwest and PacifiCorp in the Northwest, moves into third place, with the acquisition in 2006 of several large facilities.

Largest wind turbines installed (rated capacity, in MW)

Rated capacity

Turbine manufacturer

Locations installed

3 MW


Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Calif.

2.3 MW


Minnesota., North Dakota, Texas

2 MW

Gamesa, Suzlon

Pennsylvania, Minnesota

1.8 MW

Vestas, Suzlon

Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington

1.65 MW


Minnesota, New York

[average installed nationally: 1.6 MW]

The wind industry installed 1,524 turbines in 2006, with a total generating capacity of 2,454 MW, bringing the average capacity to 1.6 MW. With 764 units installed, the GE Energy 1.5-MW is still the most widely installed. The second most widely installed in 2006 is the Siemens 2.3-MW, with 249 units installed.

These turbines all stand 100 meters to 145 meters tall (330–490 feet). Within each rated capacity, the length of the blades and height of the towers can vary to accommodate specific location and wind speed needs. Larger, taller turbines catch better winds at higher elevations and are more powerful because of the larger area swept by the blades; advances in technology such as sophisticated power electronics and high-tech materials also increase productivity. Wind turbines installed in 2006 average 1.6 MW in rated capacity and are at least twice as powerful as the average turbine installed in 2000.

Congressional districts with most wind power installed (MW)


Texas – 19th


Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R)


California – 10th


Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D)


Texas – 11th


Rep. Mike Conaway (R)


California – 22d


Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R)


Minnesota – 1st


Rep.Tim Walz (D)

AWEA is launching this new ranking in response to a growing number of inquiries and interest from Capitol Hill. Wind farms boost the tax base, helping to pay for schools, roads and hospitals. Wind farms 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 farm income, while farmers continue to grow crops or graze cattle up to the foot of the turbines.

These rankings are for House Congressional districts. The Senators from the states with most wind power installed are from California, Texas, Iowa, Minnesota and Washington.

Information for these rankings was reported to AWEA by Association members. For more detailed data on existing wind power projects in the U.S. please go to www.awea.org/projects.

6 thoughts on “$4 Billion Invested In American Wind Last Year, New Rankings For US Wind Energy Released”

  1. I’m a big fan of green energy.

    While wind power is growing at about 25% per year, it’s still currently at 11.6MW.

    “In 2000, the existing capacity of U.S. electric utilities totaled 604,514 megawatts (Table 1)”


    That is: 0.0019%

    When we install 100 times as much wind power, it’ll still only be 0.19%.

    When we install 10,000 times as much wind power, it’ll be just under 2%.

  2. Oops, that’s 1,000 not 10,000, as in “When we install 1,000 times as much wind power, it’ll be just under 2%”

  3. Doug, its at 11,600 MW not 11.6 MW meaning by your numbers its currently providing .019 percent of Americas energy (however I am unsure what chart you linked to as it seems to only be showing utility production and not independent production)

    100X that would be 2%
    1000X that would be 19%

    If current projects supply 3 million house holds with wind power, in 4 years that will grow to 6 million. (at a 25% growth rate) Assuming a similar growth in solar, small scale hydro, geothermal, and efficiency measures (not to mention bigger and better turbines come out every year) it makes a big bite out of carbon heavy fossil fuels.

    Renewable energy (wind solar biomass minus hydro) provide about 1% of US energy production, add in hydro and you get to about 11%. Some places in Europe see 20% energy supply just from wind. It’s not a matter of if it can be done, just weather or not we want to do it.

    Fossil fuel supply growth is stagnant or growing slowly (some are even going down). None of them come close to the rapid growth of wind. All of this growth is also with very little government support, and no national policy encouraging wind. That being said wind alone will never meet the energy needs of this country. Think silver buckshot, not silver bullet.

    Thanks for the comments.

  4. How embarrassing for me that I used 11.6 MW when 11,600 MW was the correct value.

    However, I think that your correction is incorrect too!

    Total installed U.S. wind power capacity is over 11,600 MW
    In 2000, the existing capacity of U.S. electric utilities totaled 604,514 megawatts

    ( 11600 / 604514 ) = 0.019

    However, 0.019 is “parts per 1”.

    To find the percentage, which is parts per 100, multiply the figure by 100.

    So it would be: 1.9%

    However, I think this is based on “peak” output, when we know than wind power doesn’t deliver peak output all of the time.

    Let’s conservatively estimate 1% of all US power is generated by wind power.

    Starting at 1%, and given an approximate growth rate of 25%, how long until 50% of all power generated in the US is wind power?

    0.01*(1 + 0.25)^x = 0.5
    (1.25)^x = 0.5/0.01
    (1.25)^x = 50
    log( ( 1.25)^x ) = log(50)
    x* log ( 1.25 ) = log (50)
    x = log(50) / ( log( 1.25 ))
    x = 17.5 years

    So, if this growth rate can be sustained, in less than 20 years, the majority of US power will be wind power.

    This doesn’t require any growth in solar, geothermal, etc.

    However, it would require some serious upgrades in grid based power storage and delivery to get bursty wind power to support the base and peak load demands of the US electrical grid.


  5. For the record: AWEA changed its prediction of newly installed wind capacity for 2007 from 2.4 GW to 4 GW. That’s 1-1.2 million homes, in one year. Also, it has been demonstrated that the variability of the wind only becomes a noticeable issue when more than 10% of the entire energy supply is wind. America still has time to figure out how to successfully integrate larger capacities of wind power into the grid.

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