Wind-energy industry touts increased activity; Colorado ranks 10th

Lower costs for wind energy contributed to a surge in wind-industry activity in the second quarter of 2016, according to a report issued Tuesday by the American Wind Energy Association.

More than 18,200 megawatts of wind power capacity now are under construction or in advanced stages of development, according to AWEA’s second-quarter market report. Major utilities announced plans during the second quarter to develop and own up to 2,600 megawatts of new wind-energy generating capacity, the report said.

Colorado’s 2,965 megawatts of installed wind capacity ranks it 10th in the nation, according to the report, and its 1,879 operating wind turbines are the eighth most in the country. Wind energy provided 14.17 percent of all electricity production in the state in 2015, the report said, equivalent to powering 681,000 homes.

Kansas led the nation this quarter in new construction announcements at 778 megawatts, followed by Iowa at 551 MW and North Dakota at 400 MW.

Tom Kiernan, chief executive of AWEA, hailed Congress’ extension of a performance-based wind-energy production tax credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour. “The industry is thriving thanks to policy stability, and we appreciate support from champions in Congress for a multi-year extension of the PTC,” he said. “Wind power supports 88,000 well-paying jobs, and the wind turbine technician is the fastest growing profession in the U.S. This is what an efficient, performance-driven policy delivers.”

At least 20 manufacturing facilities in Colorado — including Vestas Wind Systems plants in Brighton, Windsor and Pueblo — create jobs and produce components for the wind industry. Colorado has expanded its wind portfolio and currently generates 14.2 percent of its in-state electricity from wind power, according to the report, and the state’s Public Utilities Commission has noted that a single wind-power purchase agreement by Xcel Energy in 2011 “will save ratepayers $100 million over its 25-year term.”

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