Wyoming’s wind energy capacity almost doubled in 2020
The wind energy sector in the U.S. shattered records in 2020, recording its biggest year yet in terms of new capacity added to the grid.
Last year, 16,913 megawatts of new wind power capacity was installed in the U.S. — an 85% increase compared to 2019. That’s according to a new quarterly report compiled by the American Clean Power Association on Thursday.
Wyoming played a big part in helping the country’s wind energy fleet reach new heights.
In 2020, the state installed 1,123 megawatts of wind power, nearly doubling its capacity.
When it comes to new wind capacity added in last year’s fourth quarter, Wyoming ranked second nationwide, after Texas. The Equality State added 895 megawatts of new wind energy capacity to the grid during that three-month period alone.
A significant portion of the development was led by the state’s largest utility, Rocky Mountain Power.
As a majority of Wyoming counties reported dramatic declines in tax revenue, sales and use taxes poured into Carbon County last year, largely thanks to wind projects.
In the third quarter of 2020, Carbon County’s taxable sales jumped by 95%, compared to the year before. The increase in revenue could be traced back to the wind projects springing up across the county. In addition to the sales and use taxes, wind developers also pay property and electricity generation taxes.
“2020 was a banner year for the wind industry,” Heather Zichal, CEO of American Clean Power Association, said in a statement. “Despite all the challenges COVID-19 placed on our businesses, we still shattered nearly every record for capacity and growth. The fourth quarter was not only the strongest quarter on record, but it also saw more wind installed in just that quarter than in any full year in the modern industry’s 40 plus year history, except 2012.”
That said, energy experts have warned Wyoming shouldn’t take the burst in wind development for granted, or expect it to automatically grow year after year.