How is wind power faring in the U.S. now? Is more of it coming on line and becoming a larger percent of the grid? And what about some of the highly publicized efforts to build wind farms, such as in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Has that been approved?
—Paul Howe, San Francisco, CA
Clean and green wind energy is the new darling of alternative energy developers, and the U.S. industry has been surging the past three years, especially as developers take advantage of government incentives—in the form of the so-called Production Tax Credit (PTC)—for erecting turbines and connecting them to the grid.
The non-profit American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports that, in 2007 alone, total U.S. wind power capacity grew by a new record of 45 percent, injecting some $9 billion into the economy. These new installations provide enough electricity to power 1.5 million typical American homes while strengthening the nation’s energy supply with clean, homegrown electricity.
According to AWEA, utility-grade wind power installations are now in operation across 34 U.S. states, generating more than 16,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity cumulatively—enough to power upwards of 4.5 million homes and to generate 45,000 new domestic jobs. But even with this growth, wind energy still accounts for just one percent of U.S. electricity supply. Continued growth apace with that of recent years, though, should make it a major player in the American energy scene within a decade. President Bush himself recently suggested that wind has the potential to supply up to 20 percent of the nation’s electricity.