Report: MN Ranks 4th for Wind Generating Capacity
Minnesota added 396 megawatts of wind-generating capacity in 2010-ranking it fourth among all states for total installed capacity, according to a new report by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
Additionally, the state ranked fifth in terms of the most new wind capacity installed last year.
To add some perspective, one megawatt of wind energy generates enough power for 225 to 300 households to use in a year. Minnesota wind farms now generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 630,000 homes, according to AWEA.
In 2009, Washington edged ahead of Minnesota and bumped it from its fourth-place ranking for most wind power capacity-but Minnesota regained its spot in thanks to the generating capacity installed last year. Its 2,192 megawatts of total capacity now narrowly surpass Washington's 2,105. Texas has the most installed generating capacity-10,085 megawatts-followed by Iowa (with 3,675) and California (with 3,177).
In addition to the 396 megawatts of wind power installed within Minnesota last year, another 507 megawatts are under construction and 20,000 megawatts of wind power generation are planned and in the works.
Approximately 9.4 percent of Minnesota's power was provided by wind in 2009, the latest period for which such data is available. That figure ranked the state second in the United States for the percentage of electricity derived from wind.
According to the National Renewable Energy Lab, Minnesota has the resources to provide nearly 25 times the state's current electricity needs.
Minnesota is more rigorous in its approach to wind energy than many other states. Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, Inc., the state's largest utility, must derive 30 percent of its sales from renewable energy by 2020. The state's Renewable Energy Standard requires that other electric utilities supply 12 percent of energy for Minnesota consumers from renewable sources by 2012, 20 percent by 2020, and 25 percent by 2025.
In addition to reducing environmental impact, Minnesota's wind energy initiatives have also fueled economic development within the state: According to AWEA, Minnesota's wind energy industry directly or indirectly supported between 2,000 and 3,000 jobs in 2009.
The nation as a whole grew its wind power capacity by 15 percent-or 5,116 megawatts-in 2010, according to AWEA. The country now has 40,181 megawatts of installed capacity, or enough to supply electricity for more than 10 million American homes.
“The American wind industry is delivering, despite competing with energy sectors that have permanent government subsidies in place,” AWEA CEO Denise Bode said in a statement. “Wind is consistently performing, adding 35 percent of all new generating capacity since 2007. That's twice what coal and nuclear added combined.”