Total US wind power increased sharply in 2009 – 10,010 megawatts (10 gigawatts) of new wind capacity was installed in the US in 2009, according to a new report issued by the American Wind Energy Association. Total US wind power capacity is now more than 35,000 megawatts (35 gigawatts), so that means that almost 1/3 of the total US wind power capacity was just installed in the last year. The 35,000 megawatts of wind power is enough electricity to provide power for about 9.7 million homes.
The new report lists a couple of other interesting items – Texas and Iowa are the number one and number two states in wind power generation, and 14 states are now producing more than 1 gigawatt each from wind power. Additionally, since wind turbines don’t need water for cooling, the wind farms have saved an estimated 15 billion gallons of water in 2009. The report does list one caution that will possibly impact future growth of wind power: the lack of transmission lines to get electricity from the turbine sites to cities. “The inadequacy of the nation’s electric grid is a major impediment to the continued growth of the wind industry,” the report noted. “Many wind projects that have connected to the grid are forced to curtail a significant amount of their output or are facing low or even negative electric prices because there is inadequate transmission to carry their full output.”