Wind surpassed hydropower dams to become the largest source of renewable electric capacity in the U.S., and the fourth largest overall thanks to the sector’s second-biggest quarter ever for new installations, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
For the year, wind developers added 8,203 MW of wind power capacity representing more than $13.8 billion in new investment. Wind capacity reached 82,183 megawatts last year, about enough to run 24 million average American homes.
It is important to note the report is on energy capacity not generation, which could produce higher numbers for hydroelectric power.
Texas leads the nation in wind energy. In 2016 they became the first state with over 20,000 MW of wind capacity, which is roughly one-fourth of the national total.
Wind power growth is now spreading up from Texas into the Plains states and across the Midwest. Eighty-nine percent of newly completed capacity in 2016 is found in these states. The offshore wind industry also launched in the fourth quarter of 2016 with the commissioning of the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates over 100,000 Americans work in the wind energy sector.
Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO, is quoted in a press release stating, “Wind power isn’t a red or blue industry, it’s red, white and blue. Low-cost, homegrown wind energy is something we can all agree on. States like Texas and Iowa are leading the way in terms of wind turbines and wind jobs.”