Iowa generates greatest share of electricity from wind, report finds

By Jodi Delapaz

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2016 - Iowa is celebrating the release of the U.S. Wind Industry Third Quarter 2016 Market Report which confirmed the state generated more than a third of its electricity from wind power during the previous year.

“Iowa is the nation's leader in wind energy,” Gov. Terry Branstad declared at a ceremony in the state capital. “I'm thrilled to see the … report from the American Wind Energy Association detail that Iowa now gets 35 percent of our electricity generation from wind, far ahead of any other state.”

The analysis finds that Texas continues as the national leader for installed wind capacity and absolute wind energy generation. In the third quarter, Texas installed 620 MW of wind capacity, becoming the first state to total more than 18,000 MW, the AWEA report found.

Over 20 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity are now under development in the U.S., the U.S. Wind Industry Third Quarter 2016 Market Report finds.

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Wind energy is responsible for over $12 billion of investments in Iowa, and supports over 7,000 jobs, according to the report. And Iowa alone accounts for 3,100 megawatts (MW) of the national 20,000 MWs under construction or in advanced development, which indicates that the state is about to add almost 50 percent to its current installed capacity of 6,365 MW.

Adding another 10,000 MW of wind in Iowa would save consumers an average of $500 million a year over the next 25 years, AWEA says.

AWEA attributes the development currently underway in Iowa and the Midwest to “forward-looking” investments in transmission in recent years. These “multi-value projects” improve electric reliability, reduce electric bills for consumers and allow new renewable resources to connect to the power system, AWEA says.

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“Transmission lines more than pay for themselves by providing up to $4 in benefits for every dollar invested,” AWEA says.” Expanding these pro-active investments in transmission and making new ones will enable states to continue adding wind power and other cost-effective energy resources to the grid.”

Highlights from the report include:

  • The wind industry installed 895 MW during the third quarter of 2016, bringing installations for the first nine months of the year to 1,725 MW.
  • Wind projects came online in seven states during the third quarter: Texas, Minnesota, Maine, Rhode Island, Oregon, Massachusetts and Utah.
  • Project developers signed 729 MW of Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) during the third quarter. (PPAs are long-term contracts for the purchase of energy, in this case from a wind farm.)
  • Combined utilities and non-utilities have signed PPAs totaling 3,193 MW through the third quarter, a 39 percent increase in activity compared to the same time period last year. Non-utility purchasers of wind energy, including Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, Johnson & Johnson and Target, represent 33 percent of total project capacity contracted for the year.
  • The price consumers pay for wind fell by two-thirds in six years due to technological innovation that allowed turbines to reach stronger, steadier winds, and improved computer controls that make turbines even more efficient.

“The unprecedented five-year extension of the Production Tax Credit at the end of last year was a beacon of certainty for our industry, and ended the boom-bust cycles we've previously weathered,” says Chris Brown, AWEA board chairman and president of Vestas Americas. 

“Wind has come from green to mainstream, and that's because it's really become an irresistible deal, for big purchasers and for everyone who pays an electric bill,” Brown said. “And it's becoming an even better deal all the time.”

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