The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently released the U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2013 Market Report, which showed a surge in growth for the quarter when compared to the rest of 2013. During this period, Kansas, California, Michigan, Texas, New York, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Indiana all brought installations online. In total, the industry saw 1,084 MW of installations across the U.S. and 10,900 MW that began construction activity.
Today there are 61,108 MW of installed wind capacity in the U.S., enough to power the equivalent of more than 15.3 million average American homes. Looking ahead, once the 90+ projects under construction in 20 states are completed, they'll add enough electricity to power an additional 3.5 million average American households. In this category, Texas currently leads the way with more than 7,000 MW under construction, with Iowa following at 1,050 MW.
These numbers of course mean more power generation, but they also mean more reliability and security. In January the U.S. wind industry held steadfast against the "polar vortex," which sent temperatures plummeting for weeks in large parts of the country. Wind power demonstrated its role in a balanced energy portfolio by maintaining output when demand increased significantly, while also heading off temporary price spikes.
While we continue to adapt to an evolving landscape, each day the industry works to foster positive change for our business, the environment, and the consumer (who has seen wind energy prices decrease by 43 percent over the past four years). These changes come through working with our representatives on Capitol Hill for a PTC and ITC extension, through power purchase agreements across a dozen states, through innovation at wind energy companies and R&D divisions in the U.S. and abroad, through the support of corporate purchasers like Google and Microsoft who continue to invest in wind power, and through industry collaboration at our own AWEA WINDPOWER 2014 Conference & Exhibition this May in Las Vegas.
The value of AWEA's WINDPOWER 2014 Conference & Exhibition cannot be overstated, and each year, the wind industry gathers to generate actionable ideas for expanding the wind energy economy through technology and partnerships. And with the U.S. Department of Energy planning to roll out their wind vision update of 20 percent wind energy by 2030, WINDPOWER is a great platform for the industry to meet face-to-face and chart a path forward.
Although we are in the early part of 2014, here at AWEA we are already looking towards keeping the momentum of the 2013 fourth quarter going by driving demand for more wind energy, making wind energy more cost-competitive, implementing policies that assist deployment and operations, building political strength to renew the PTC/ITC and maintain strong state-wide renewable portfolio standards (RPS), and hosting the industry at WINDPOWER this May!
Tom Kiernan is Chief Executive Officer of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).