This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 10, 2006

U.S. Wind Power Growth Expected to Set New Records This Year

Photo of cranes assembling wind turbines. A crane in the foreground is setting a tower in place, while behind that stands a tower with just the nacelle. A completed turbine stands in the background.

Wind power projects are currently under construction throughout the country.
Credit: Scott Kirk/Puget Sound Energy

The U.S. wind energy industry is on track to install a record-breaking 3,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power this year, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). More than 400 MW of new plants have already been brought online since January, including the 150-MW Shiloh Wind Farm in California, the 60-MW Spring Creek Wind Farm in Colorado, and the 60-MW first phase of the Maple Ridge project in upstate New York. In addition, Hawaii and New Jersey gained their first utility-scale wind projects, as enXco, Inc. completed a 10.56-MW facility on the Big Island and Community Energy, Inc., Babcock and Brown, and CH Energy Group, Inc. began commercial operation of the 7.5-MW Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm in Atlantic City. The current record for U.S. wind power growth, set last year, was 2,400 MW. See the press releases from AWEA, enXco, and Community Energy.

Large new wind power projects should be producing power by the end of this year in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota. In Texas, Airtricity is building the 125-MW Forest Creek Wind Farm about 50 miles east of Midland using 2.3-MW Siemens wind turbines. Airtricity will sell its power to TXU Wholesale, a subsidiary of TXU Corporation. Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) is building the 100.5-MW Spearville Wind Energy Facility in southwest Kansas and will sell most of the wind power to Sprint Nextel. Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) is paying Invenergy Wind LLC to build the 120-MW Centennial Wind Farm in northwest Oklahoma. And North Dakota is gaining its largest wind facility yet, as FPL Energy is building the 50.6-MW Oliver County Wind Energy Center and will sell its power to Minnesota Power. See the press releases from TXU, KCP&L (PDF 119 KB), OG&E, and Minnesota Power. Download Adobe Reader.

Meanwhile, the status of offshore wind power remains uncertain in the United States. In New Jersey, the Blue Ribbon Panel on Development of Wind Turbine Facilities in Coastal Waters has released its final report, which recommends the state proceed with a limited test project only, not to exceed 350 MW, to obtain practical knowledge of benefits and impacts resulting from offshore wind turbine facilities. The panel notes these efforts must be preceded by scientific baseline studies that collect basic data about the existence, location, and nature of New Jersey's offshore natural resources, in addition to information regarding potential economic impacts of offshore wind projects. Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS) now has authority to regulate offshore renewable energy projects. MMS is holding public scoping meetings across the United States in May and June to help it prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for such projects. A Web site has also been established for the Programmatic EIS. See the New Jersey wind panel report and the press releases from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the MMS.