Wind power in the United States
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Wind power in the United States is a branch of the energy industry, expanding quickly over the last several years. Construction of new wind power generation capacity in the fourth quarter of 2012 totaled 8,380 megawatts (MW) bringing the cumulative installed capacity to 60,007 MW. This capacity is exceeded only by China. For the 12 months until March 2013, the electricity produced from wind power in the United States amounted to 143.538 terawatt-hours, or 3.56% of all generated electrical energy.
New wind farms can produce electricity in the 5-8 cents per kWh range, making wind power more competitive with the cost of fossil fuel electricity generation. Fifteen states have installed over 1,000 MW of wind capacity, and a total of 39 states now have installed at least some utility-scale wind power, with Nevada the latest in the 3Q of 2012. Texas, with 12,212 MW of capacity, has the most installed wind power capacity of any U.S. state, followed by California and Iowa with 5,549 MW and 5,137 MW respectively. The Alta Wind Energy Center in California is the largest wind farm in the United States with a capacity of 1020 MW of power.
GE Energy is the largest domestic wind turbine manufacturer. In 2010, the wind power industry in the US received 13.4% ($4.986 billion) of all federal subsidies for electricity generation including 4.852 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
There were 10,312 MW across 30 states under construction in the second quarter of 2012 and 8,430 MW across 30 states and territories under construction in the third quarter of 2012, with less than 100 MW of new construction. The U.S. Department of Energy’s report 20% Wind Energy by 2030 envisioned that wind power could supply 20% of all U.S. electricity, which included a contribution of 4% from offshore wind power. In August 2011, a coalition of 24 governors asked the Obama administration to provide a more favorable business climate for the development of wind power. Near the end of 2012, the United States fiscal cliff undermined the wind industry because of an expiring 2.2₡/kWh tax credit. The threat of the expired tax credit meant that only 47 MW of wind power was under construction at the end of 2012 compared to over 13,000 MW constructed during that year.
From 1974 through the mid-1980s the United States government worked with industry to advance the technology and enable large commercial wind turbines. A series of NASA wind turbines were developed under a program to create a utility-scale wind turbine industry in the U.S., with funding from the National Science Foundation and later the United States Department of Energy (DOE). A total of 13 experimental wind turbines were put into operation, in four major wind turbine designs. This research and development program pioneered many of the multi-megawatt turbine technologies in use today, including: steel tube towers, variable-speed generators, composite blade materials, partial-span pitch control, as well as aerodynamic, structural, and acoustic engineering design capabilities.
Later, in the 1980s, California provided tax rebates for wind power. These rebates funded the first major use of wind power for utility electricity. These machines, gathered in large wind parks such as at Altamont Pass would be considered small and un-economic by modern wind power development standards. In 1985 half of the world's wind energy was generated at Altamont Pass. By the end of 1986 about 6,700 wind turbines, mostly less than 100 kW, had been installed at Altamont, at a cost of about $1 billion, and generated about 550 million kWh/year.
Due to better wind, the United States generates more electricity than either Germany or China, for the same installed capacity. In 2011, the U.S. generated 121 TWh, 27.7% of the world's wind generation, with 19.7% of the world's installed wind capacity, while China generated 73.2 TWh (16.7% of the world's total with 26.1% of the world's installed wind capacity). Germany generated 10.6% of the world's wind generation with 12.1% of the world's installed wind capacity, in 2011. The top five states according to percentage of generation by wind in 2012 are:
The ten largest wind farms in the United States are:
|Alta Wind Energy Center||1320||California|
|Shepherds Flat Wind Farm||845||Oregon|
|Roscoe Wind Farm||781||Texas|
|Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center||736||Texas|
|Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm||705||California|
|Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm||662||Texas|
|San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm||619||California|
|Fowler Ridge Wind Farm||600||Indiana|
|Sweetwater Wind Farm||585||Texas|
|Altamont Pass Wind Farm||576||California|
The Alta Wind Energy Center in California is the country's largest wind farm at 1320 megawatt (MW) capacity. It consists of 490 wind turbines manufactured by General Electric, and Vestas. In 2012 it surpassed the Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas when additional phases of the project were completed. The project is located in Kern county and covers a 9,000-acre (36 km2) area. 
The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in Benton County, Indiana has generating capacity of 600 MW total. The first phase of the project consisted of 222 wind turbines, installed 400 MW of capacity. Phase 2, completed in 2009, installed an additional 200 MW of capacity.
National trends 
|Thousand Megawatthours Generated
Over the last few years, wind power in the U.S. has been increasing rapidly. In 2010, however, new construction was about half of the previous year due to various factors, including the financial crisis, and recession. The graph at left shows the growth in installed wind generation capacity in the United States based on data from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. In 2008, installed capacity in the U.S. increased by 50% over the prior year. The world average growth rate that year was 28.8%.
New wind farms can produce electricity in the 5-8 cents per kWh range, making wind power competitive with the cost of fossil fuel electricity generation in many markets. Fifteen states have each installed over 1,000 MW of wind capacity, and a total of 39 states and Puerto Rico now have installed at least some utility-scale wind power. Much of the new wind power capacity is being built in the Great Plains and Midwest regions of the United States, which have a favorable combination of characteristics: ample wind resources, an extensive rail and highway network for shipping outsized turbine components, flat topography which both improves the wind and makes turbine components easier to ship, and broad acceptance from local farmers and ranchers. New development in some locations, however, is being limited by lack of additional capacity to transmit power to locations where it can be used.
Wind generation potential 
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the contiguous United States has the potential for 10,459 GW of onshore wind power. The capacity could generate 37 petawatt-hours (PW·h) annually, an amount nine times larger than current total U.S. electricity consumption. The U.S. also has large wind resources in Alaska, and Hawaii.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s 2008 report 20% Wind Energy by 2030 envisioned that wind power could supply 20% of all U.S. electricity, which included a contribution of 4% to the nation’s total electricity from offshore wind power. In order to achieve this, however, significant advances in cost, performance and reliability are needed, based on a 2011 report from a coalition of researchers from universities, industry, and government, supported by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Obtaining 20% from wind requires about 305 GW of wind turbines, an increase of 16 GW/year after 2018, or an average increase of 14.6%/year, and transmission line improvements.
In addition to the large onshore wind resources, the U.S. has large offshore wind power potential, with another NREL report released in September 2010 showing that the U.S. has 4,150 GW of potential offshore wind power nameplate capacity, an amount 4 times that of the country's 2008 installed capacity from all sources, of 1,010 GW.
State trends 
In five U.S. states, 10 percent or more of electricity generation came from wind power in 2011. South Dakota leads the states, with wind power making up 22 percent of its electricity generation in 2011. Iowa generated 19 percent of its electricity in 2011 with wind energy. And in North Dakota, wind power’s contribution was 15 percent.
In 2010 Texas surpassed the 10,000 MW mark with the addition of over 600 MW of generating capacity. Texas has many wind farms which together total an installed capacity of 12,212 MW. The Roscoe Wind Farm in Roscoe, Texas, Texas's largest wind farm with 627 wind turbines and a total installed capacity of 781.5 MW, surpassed the nearby 735.5 MW Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center. It is located about 200 miles (320 km) west of Fort Worth and the wind farm area spans parts of four Texas counties.
|Buffalo Gap Wind Farm||523||Vestas||Taylor / Nolan|
|Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm||662||GE Energy / Siemens||Sterling / Coke|
|Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center||735||GE Energy / Siemens||Taylor / Nolan|
|Lone Star Wind Farm||400||Gamesa||Shackelford / Callahan|
|Panther Creek Wind Farm||458||GE Energy||Howard / …|
|Papalote Creek Wind Farm||380||Siemens||San Patricio|
|Peñascal Wind Farm||404||Mitsubishi||Kenedy|
|Roscoe Wind Farm||781||Mitsubishi||Nolan|
|Sweetwater Wind Farm||585||GE Energy / Siemens / Mitsubishi||Nolan|
Iowa had 5,137 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity at the end of 2012, third only to Texas and California. Wind power accounted for almost 25 percent of the state’s electricity generation during 2012. Since Iowa adopted a renewable energy standard in 1983, the wind power industry has generated almost $5 billion in investment. The state's largest windfarm is the 443.9 MW Rolling Hills Wind Farm in southwestern Iowa which was completed in December 2011.
Wind power in California has doubled in capacity since 2002. With a total of nearly 4,000 megawatts installed, as of the end of 2011, wind energy now supplies about 5% of California’s total electricity needs, or enough to power more than 400,000 households. In 2011, 921.3 megawatts were installed. Most of that activity occurred in the Tehachapi area of Kern County, with some big projects in Solano, Contra Costa and Riverside counties as well. After 2012. California now ranks second nationwide in terms of capacity, behind Texas with a capacity of 5,549 MW.
More than 13,000 of California's wind turbines, or 95 percent of all of California's wind output, are located in three primary regions: Altamont Pass Wind Farm (east of San Francisco); Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm (south east of Bakersfield), and San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm (near Palm Springs, east of Los Angeles). The giant new Alta Wind Energy Center, is also located within the Tehachapi Pass region.
|Altamont Pass Wind Farm||Alameda County||576||Operational|||
|Alta Wind Energy Center||Kern County||1020||Operational|||
|San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm||Riverside County||615||Operational|||
|Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm||Kern County||705||Operational|||
At the end of 2011, the installed capacity in Minnesota was 2,986 MW. Wind farms generated nearly 10 percent of the electricity generated in the state in 2010. Large wind farms in Minnesota include the Buffalo Ridge Wind Farm (225 MW), the Fenton Wind Farm (205.5 MW), the Nobles Wind Farm (201 MW) and the Bent Tree Wind Farm (201 MW).
|Lower Snake River Wind Project||Garfield County||342.7||Operational|||
|Windy Point Wind Farm||Klickitat County||339||Operational|||
|Wild Horse I||Kittitas County||273||Operational|||
|Marengo Wind Farm||Columbia County||211||Operational|||
|White Creek Wind Farm||Klickitat County||205||Operational|||
|Big Horn Wind Farm||Klickitat County||200||Operational|||
|Stateline Wind Farm||Walla Walla County||177||Operational|||
|Hopkins Ridge Wind Farm||Columbia County||157||Operational|||
|Biglow Canyon Wind Farm||Sherman County||450||Operational|||
|Leaning Juniper Wind Project||Gilliam County||302.3||Operational|||
|Klondike Wind Farm||Sherman County||399||Operational|||
|Shepherds Flat Wind Farm||Gilliam and Morrow Counties||845||Operational|||
|Stateline Wind Project||Umatilla County||123||Operational|||
|Vansycle Wind Project||Umatilla County||124||Operational|||
The Chokecherry/ Sierra Madre Wind Project comprises the largest commercial wind generation facility proposed in North America. Power Company of Wyoming, a wholly owned affiliate of The Anschutz Corporation, has applied to the BLM to build approximately 1,000 wind turbines in an area located south of Rawlins, Wyoming, in Carbon County. The project is proposed to have a capacity of 2,000 to 3,000 MW of electricity and construction may take 3–4 years with a project life estimate of 30 years.
The White Mountain Wind Energy Project is a proposed 360 MW wind farm which would result in the construction of up to 240 turbines on White Mountain just northwest of Rock Springs.
Kansas has high potential capacity for wind power, second behind Texas. The most recent estimates are that Kansas has a potential for 950 GW of wind power capacity. Kansas could generate 3,900 TW·h of electricity each year, which represents more than all the electricity generated from coal, natural gas and nuclear combined in the United States in 2011. At the end of 2012, Kansas had 2,712 MW of wind generation capacity installed.
Commercialization of wind power 
Industry trends 
Since 2005 many turbine manufacturing leaders have opened U.S. facilities; of the top 10 global manufacturers in 2007, seven – Vestas, GE Energy, Gamesa, Suzlon, Siemens, Acciona, and Nordex – have an American manufacturing presence. In addition, Clipper Windpower, which is based in the U.S., has joined GE as a major domestic player in the production of utility-scale wind turbines, with the two companies together accounting for 50% of the 2008 domestic turbine market. REpower is another manufacturer with notable usage in the United States.
Plans for 30 new manufacturing facilities were announced in 2008, and the wind industry expects to see a continued shift towards domestic manufacturing in the coming years. In total, 70 manufacturing facilities have begun production, been expanded, or announced since January 2007.
As of April 2009, over 100 companies are producing components for wind turbines, employing thousands of workers in the manufacture of parts as varied as towers, composite blades, bearings and gears. Many existing companies in traditional manufacturing states have retooled to enter the wind industry. Their manufacturing facilities are spread across 40 states, employing workers from the Southeast to the Steel Belt, to the Great Plains and on to the Pacific Northwest.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working with six leading wind turbine manufacturers towards achieving 20% wind power in the United States by 2030. The DOE announced the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with GE Energy, Siemens Power Generation, Vestas Wind Systems, Clipper Windpower, Suzlon Energy, and Gamesa Corporation. Under the MOU, the DOE and the six manufacturers will collaborate to gather and exchange information relating to five major areas: research and development related to turbine reliability and operability; siting strategies for wind power facilities; standards development for turbine certification and universal interconnection of wind turbines; manufacturing advances in design, process automation, and fabrication techniques; and workforce development.
Wind Powering America 
Wind Powering America (WPA) is an initiative of the United States Department of Energy (DOE) that seeks to increase the use of wind energy throughout the United States. WPA collaborates with key state and regional stakeholders, including farmers, ranchers, Native Americans, rural electric cooperatives, consumer-owned utilities, and schools to break down barriers associated with wind energy development.
Throughout its history, WPA has focused on states with strong potential for wind energy generation but with few operational projects. WPA provides fair and unbiased information about the challenges, benefits, and impacts of wind technology implementation. This information allows policymakers, organizations, and citizens to make educated and informed decisions about wind energy implementation in their communities.
Other government involvement 
The DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has announced a number of wind technology projects, including a new state-of-the-art wind turbine blade test facility to be built in Ingleside, Texas. The Texas-NREL Large Blade Research and Test Facility will be capable of testing blades as long as 70 meters (230 feet). It will be built and operated through a partnership among NREL, DOE, and a state consortium led by University of Houston, with the university owning and operating the facility's buildings, DOE funding up to $2 million in capital costs, and NREL providing technical and operational assistance. The blade test facility is estimated to cost between $12 million and $15 million and should be completed by 2010. Located on the Gulf Coast, the Texas facility will complement a similar facility that is being built on the coast of Massachusetts.
NREL has also recently signed agreements with Siemens Power Generation and First Wind, a wind power developer. Siemens is launching a new research and development facility in nearby Boulder, Colorado, and has agreed to locate and test a commercial-scale wind turbine at NREL's National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). First Wind (formerly called UPC Wind Partners, LLC) owns and operates the 30-megawatt Kaheawa Wind Power farm in West Maui, Hawaii, and has agreed to let the NWTC establish a Remote Research Affiliate Partner Site at the facility. The Maui satellite of NWTC will collaborate with First Wind on studies to develop advanced wind energy technologies, including energy storage and integration of renewable electricity into Maui's electrical grid.
In July 2008, Texas approved a $4.93 billion expansion of the state's electric grid to bring wind energy to its major cities. Transmission companies will recoup the cost of constructing the new power lines, expected to be completed in 2013, from fees estimated at $4 per month for residential customers. This lack of capacity forced wind turbines to be shut down at times and reduced wind power generation in Texas by 17% in 2009.
The development of wind is constrained by transmission limits in many locations. The Green Power Express is a proposal for an electric power transmission grid that would transmit up to 12,000 MW of wind generated power from the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Iowa to the Chicago area and to southeastern U.S. states. The system would add some 3,000 miles (4,800 km) of extra high voltage (765 kilovolt) transmission lines. It has received some approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of the U.S. government. New transmission grid power lines would be needed to transmit power from sources like the Titan Wind Project to population centers further east. Opponents claim the lines would also be used to transmit electricity from coal-fired powerplants.
The U.S. provides a federal production tax credit (PTC) of $22 per MW·h generated for the first ten years of operation for wind energy sold. RPS mandating a certain percentage of electricity sales come from renewable energy sources in about half of the states also have boosted the development of the wind industry. The inadequacy of the Congress to renew this in a timely manner, has been a detriment to the development of wind power. Each year it has expired development has slowed the next year, and each year it is renewed development has expanded. While it is set to expire at the end of 2012, it is anticipated that it will be renewed but not necessarily before the end of 2012. The PTC was first introduced in 1992. When it was allowed to expire, development dropped 93%, 73%, and 77% the following year. In 2011, development was projected to drop as much as 100% in 2013.
On January 1, 2013 the production tax credit was extended for another year.
Siting considerations 
There is competition for wind farms among farmers in places like Iowa or ranchers in Colorado. Farmers, with no investment on their part, typically receive $3,000–5,000 per year in royalties from the local utility for siting a single, large, advanced-design wind turbine.
Worldwide experience has shown that community consultation and direct involvement of the general public in wind farm projects has helped to increase community approval, and some wind farms overseas have become tourist attractions.
Offshore wind power 
As of 2012[update], the United States has no offshore wind power. In June 2009, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued five exploratory leases for wind power production on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore from New Jersey and Delaware. The leases authorize data gathering activities, allowing for the construction of meteorological towers on the Outer Continental Shelf from six to 18 miles (29 km) offshore. Four areas are being considered. On February 7, 2011, Salazar and Stephen Chu announced a national strategy to have offshore wind power of 10 GW in 2020, and 54 GW in 2030.
The United States has very large offshore wind energy resources due to strong, consistent winds off the long U.S. coastline. Offshore wind energy is a clean, domestic, renewable resource that can assist the U.S. in meeting energy, environmental, and economic challenges. A robust U.S. offshore wind industry could generate tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic activity. Much of this activity would boost economically depressed ports and shipyards, which could be repurposed to manufacture and install offshore wind turbines. Research on European offshore wind farms shows that offshore wind generates more jobs per megawatt installed than onshore wind. A Virginia study has shown that the development of 3,200 MW of offshore wind would create 9,700–11,600 jobs within 20 years, and that installation of a 588 MW offshore wind farm would attract $403 million of investment in the local economy regardless of where the turbines were manufactured. Though offshore wind turbines are more expensive to build than onshore turbines (because they tend to be larger and must be anchored to the sea-floor), they also tend to generate more electricity than onshore turbines because of their size.
Some coastal residents oppose offshore wind farms because of fears about impacts on marine life, the environment, electricity rates, aesthetics, and recreation such as fishing and boating. However, residents also cite improved electricity rates, air quality, and job creation as positive impacts they would expect from wind farms. Because the bases of offshore turbines function as artificial reefs, studies have shown that after the initial disturbance of construction, local fish and shellfish are positively affected. Because wind turbines can be positioned at some distance from shore, impacts to recreation and fishing can be managed by careful planning of wind farm locations.
In 2011, the NREL published a report, Large-Scale Offshore Wind Power in the United States, that analyzes the current state of the offshore wind energy industry. According to the report, "developing the offshore wind resource along U.S. coastlines and in the Great Lakes would help the nation":
- Achieve 20% of its electricity from wind by 2030, as offshore wind could supply 54 gigawatts of wind capacity to the nation’s electrical grid, increasing energy security, reducing air and water pollution, and stimulating the domestic economy.
- Provide clean power to its coastal demand centers, as wind power emits no carbon dioxide (CO2) and there are plentiful winds off the coasts of 26 states.
- Revitalize its manufacturing sector, generating an "estimated $200 billion in new economic activity, and create more than 43,000 permanent, well-paid technical jobs in manufacturing, construction, engineering, operations and maintenance".
NREL’s report concludes that "the development of the nation’s offshore wind resources can provide many potential benefits, and with effective research, policies, and commitment, offshore wind energy can play a vital role in future U.S. energy markets".
Projects are under development in wind-rich areas of the East Coast, Great Lakes, and Pacific coast. In January 2012, a "Smart for the Start" regulatory approach was introduced, designed to expedite the siting process while incorporating strong environmental protections. Specifically, the Department of Interior approved “wind energy areas” off the coast where projects can move through the regulatory approval process more quickly.
The Cape Wind Project is an approved offshore wind farm, on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod in the U.S. state of Massachusetts, proposed by a private developer, Cape Wind Associates. If the project moves forward on schedule, it may become the first offshore wind energy project in United States coastal waters. The project has been fought by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, formed in 2001 to oppose the proposal. The project is expected to cost $2.5 billion.
Rhode Island 
At the state level, a goal was set in 2004 by the governor of having 15% of electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. State officials picked Deepwater Wind to build a $1.5-billion, 385-megawatt wind farm in federal waters off Block Island. The 100-turbine project could provide 1.3 terawatt-hours (TW·h) of electricity per year – 15 percent of all electricity used in the state. In 2009, Deepwater signed an agreement with National Grid to sell the power from a $200-million, 30-MW wind farm off Block Island, at an initial price of 24.4 ¢/kW·h.
New Jersey 
In 2007, New Jersey awarded a $4.4 million contract to conduct an 18-month Ocean/Wind Power Ecological Baseline Study, becoming the first state to sponsor an ocean and wind power study before allowing renewable energy developers to study and build off its shores. The study focused on a designated area off the coast to determine the current distribution, abundance and migratory patterns of avian species, fish, marine resources and sea turtle use of the existing ecological resources. In 2008, new federal rules greatly expanded the territory offshore wind parks can be built. Previously, projects were only allowed in shallow state waters within 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) of shore. The edge of U.S. territory is about 200 nautical miles (370 km) out. Increased distance from the coast diminishes their visibility. Waters off the coast of the United States are deeper than in Europe, requiring different designs. In June 2010, the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection released the results of the study which stated that the effects of developing offshore windfarms would be "negligible". Soon after, the New Jersey Legislature created and the governor signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act. The law provides for financial incentives and tax credits to support offshore wind projects. It also authorized a new Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Certificate (OREC) program and rules that developers must follow to obtain approval and receive ORECs.
Atlantic Wind Connection 
Atlantic Wind Connection is a proposed electrical transmission backbone to be built off the Atlantic Coast of the United States to serve off-shore wind farms. Google and Good Energies, an investment firm, are the major investors in the $5 billion dollar project proposed by Trans-Elect Development Company which would deliver power ashore in southern Virginia, Delaware, southern New Jersey and northern New Jersey. The proposed system has been praised by environmentalists and federal regulators, but as a first of its kind project, poses significant risks of encountering unexpected technological challenges and cost overruns. Such an offshore backbone is an element in the national electricity strategy. On January 17, 2013 Atlantic Wind Connection announced it had selected Bechtel as the EPC contractor and Alstom as technical advisor for the first phase of the development.
|U.S. Wind Generation (GWh, Million kWh)|
|Year||Total||% of total||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sept||Oct||Nov||Dec|
|2013 % of total||4.18%||4.48%||4.81%|
See also 
- American Wind Energy Association
- List of wind farms in the United States
- Renewable energy in the United States
- List of onshore wind farms
- Wind ENergy Data & Information (WENDI) Gateway
- Wind power in Texas
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