The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently released their U.S Wind Industry Annual Market Report Year Ending 2017 report on wind energy, which revealed that wind energy provided 254 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of generation to the U.S. grid in 2017, providing 6.3 percent of America’s electricity, and the industry employs 105,500 workers. According to the report, the U.S. accounted 13 percent of new wind power capacity installed worldwide in 2017, and it ranks second in terms of both installed wind power capacity and wind energy generation.
Impressively, there are now four states where wind provided more than 30 percent of electrical generation—Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.
But the state AWEA highlighted as the biggest rising star in wind energy was New Mexico. To celebrate the release of the report, they held a news conference at the state’s capitol building in Santa Fe because New Mexico led the nation in wind energy growth, adding capacity this year at a faster rate than any other state. Wind power now supplies about 13.5 percent of all energy in the state, enough to power more than 422,000 homes, and the Land of Enchantment is expected to more than double its wind energy capacity over the next four years.
“New Mexico continues to see strong consumer and industrial demand for wind power, which is reinvigorating and diversifying the state’s economy,” said Tom Darin, AWEA’s Western state policy director. “This includes substantial investments and economic benefits in rural New Mexico, where it’s needed the most.”
New Mexico’s congressional delegation hailed the impact of wind energy on the state, including Republican Congressman Steve Pearce, who is running for governor.
“Wind means jobs, investment and rural development for our state. Wind power creates high-skill careers—just ask any of the more than 3,000 New Mexicans already working in the industry,” the delegation said in a joint statement. “Our existing wind farms represent nearly $3 billion in private capital investment to date, and new drought-proof revenue for farmers and ranchers in rural communities.”
Conservatives are increasingly supporting investment in wind energy because it creates jobs, grows the economy, and strengthens national security. Wind projects and wind-related manufacturing facilities now exist 75 percent of Republican congressional districts.
According to polling CRES Forum sponsored last summer, a majority of all Republicans, especially younger GOP voters, favor the government taking steps to reduce emissions of gases like carbon dioxide and methane emissions that cause global climate change.
So, what is driving the growth behind wind? The report says utilities are investing more in wind than ever before— signing contracts for over 3,300 MW and announcing plans to own and operate 5,500 MW of wind power capacity in 2017 alone.
Businesses are on board as well because they see the cost efficiencies wind energy brings. In 2017, non-utility purchasers signed 23 contracts for wind energy totaling more than 2,000 MW. Overall, non-utility purchasers have procured more than 9,100 MW of wind power, led by Google, which we recently wrote about in a blog post.
We thank AWEA for the great data and research they provide to help us understand the profound change that clean energy brings to grow America’s economy.