New wind farm announcements in the first quarter of 2019 propelled the total volume of U.S. wind power construction and development activity to a record level, according to the "U.S. Wind Industry First Quarter 2019 Market Report" released by the American Wind Energy Assn. (AWEA).
The AWEA report reveals that U.S. project developers announced new wind farms with a total capacity of 6,146 megawatts (MW) in the first quarter of 2019, which is more than the capacity of all the currently operational wind farms in California. The additional capacity brings the U.S. construction and advanced development pipeline to a record-breaking 39,161 MW -- an 11% increase over the previous quarter. Eight states are now on track to double their installed wind capacity.
“With nearly 40,000 MW in development, America’s largest source of renewable energy generating capacity is on a path to grow by 40% in the near term,” AWEA chief executive officer Tom Kiernan said. “In doing so, we’ll create thousands of additional American jobs and new economic opportunities for factory towns and rural communities across the country.”
By the end of last year, six states produced 20% of their electricity from wind, while others, like Iowa and Kansas, exceeded 30%, according to the 2018 AWEA "Annual Market Report."
Of the total wind pipeline, 17,213 MW were under construction across 21 states at the end of first quarter. Texas boasted the most wind energy under construction, with 6,528 MW — 1,255 MW of which are new this year. Project developers also reported 21,949 MW of wind capacity in the advanced development stage, which also reached a record level. Projects in advanced development have not yet begun construction but are likely to come on line in the near term because they have either signed a long-term contract, placed turbine orders or are proceeding under utility ownership.
A total of 841 MW of wind projects came on line during the first quarter, elevating the country’s total installed capacity to 97,223 MW. Iowa led the nation in new capacity installations, with 536 MW brought on line. This continues the robust growth the industry has seen in recent years.
Wind power is a 50-state industry, with either a wind farm or a factory supplying the industry found in every state. Wind turbine technician remains the second-fastest-growing career in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the end of 2018, more than 114,000 Americans worked in wind power.
For the first time last year, AWEA began tracking state and local tax data and found that the wind industry contributes more than $1 billion every year in combined state and local taxes, plus lease payments to landowners who host turbines.