Wind Is The New Power In America’s Heartland
U.S. wind energy recently achieved a major milestone, which underscores a new reality that is generating power and jobs across America’s heartland. In February, low-cost clean electricity from wind turbines on the Great Plains supplied more than half (52.1%) of all power on the grid serving Americans in a 14-state swath of the central U.S., stretching from Texas to Montana.
This was the first time a North American grid operator supplied a majority of its electricity from wind, powering millions of households. “Now we have the ability to reliably manage greater than 50%,” said Bruce Rew, vice president of operations, Southwest Power Pool (SPP). “It’s not even our ceiling.”
SPP understands the power of wind. They aren’t alone.
The CEO of Great River Energy Inc., which supplies 28 electric co-ops in Minnesota, recently said that “wind is quickly becoming the new base load, and to be viable going forward, all other sources must be flexible enough to be supplemental to the wind.”
Indeed, in 2016 wind topped hydroelectric as the #1 U.S. renewable energy in total capacity, enough to power 24 million homes. Wind capped a second straight year installing more than 8,000 megawatts and exceeded both natural gas and solar in new U.S. utility-scale capacity for 2015-2016 combined, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reported.
Wind is winning in energy markets because of its proven reliability and market-beating cost, which fell 66% since 2009. It’s now the cheapest source of new electric-generating capacity across much of the nation, attracting utilities such as Xcel Energy and MidAmerican Energy, and corporate buyers including Amazon, Google, Home Depot and GM.
Wind isn’t just becoming a major contributor to U.S. power – it’s a rapidly expanding base for U.S. jobs. Every year, the wind industry as a whole now supports more than 30 U.S. jobs for every new wind turbine, according to analysis of new economic impact data by Navigant Consulting. A modern wind turbine takes 18 full-time U.S. jobs to develop, manufacture, transport and construct, and creates 44 years of full-time employment, including long-term operations and maintenance, over its lifetime.
Nationwide, wind powers 102,500 jobs, driving economic development in the rural Midwest, Rust Belt and all 50 states. By 2020, projected wind-related jobs will rise to a quarter million, including jobs in communities surrounding wind farms and factories. Today, U.S. wind counts more than 1,000 utility-scale projects, 52,000 wind turbines and 500 factories.
Read full article at Forbes