Second quarter 2017: Top 5 story lines

We know that U.S. wind power posted impressive numbers in 2016. But how is 2017 shaping up?

The second quarter results are in and the outlook is strong. AWEA just released its U.S. Wind Industry Second Quarter 2017 Market Report, and it shows development activity up 40 percent over the same time last year. Notably, heartland states like Kansas continue to headline project investment.

Here’s what you need to know from this quarter’s report.

  1. The U.S. wind industry reported 25,819 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity under construction or in advanced development during the second quarter, a 41 percent increase over this time last year. That includes a combined 3,841 MW in new announcements. And nearly 80 percent of that activity is found in the Midwest, Texas and the Mountain West, as our richest wind resources draw even more investment and jobs to communities in rural America. Considering the U.S. currently has a total of more than 84,000 MW of installed capacity (enough to power 25 million homes), a development pipeline nearing 26,000 MW is a big deal.
  2. Kansas just became the fifth state to surpass 5,000 MW of installed capacity, with enough wind power to supply 1.5 million average homes. Kansas wind supports nearly 6,000 in-state jobs and makes lease payments up to $15 million a year to its farmers and ranchers for hosting turbines.

Gov. Sam Brownback best summarized how wind works for Kansas:

In my first State of the State speech in January of 2011, I said that Kansas was already known as the Wheat State and the Sunflower State, but that I wanted Kansas to also be known as the Renewables State. Fast forward six years, and Kansas has made major strides to achieving that lofty goal. Today, Kansas can officially say it has joined the “5,000 Megawatt Club” a distinction only four other states have achieved. But, we don’t intend to stop. A year ago, I announced another goal for Kansas – to be powered 50% by renewable energy by January 2019 – one of the most aggressive renewable energy policies in the country. Here’s to the next 5,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity in Kansas and the jobs, businesses and private capital it brings to all parts of our great State.

Overall, project developers installed 357 MW during the second quarter, bringing year-to-date installations to 2,357 MW.

  1. Wind power procurement continued at a strong, steady pace. Power purchase agreements (PPA) representing 1,697 MW were signed during the second quarter, contributing to a total of 3,443 MW of PPAs announced in 2017. Notably, six corporate purchasers signed wind PPAs for the first time, including General Mills (the first grocery producer to purchase wind energy), Apple, T-Mobile, Goldman Sachs, Akamai Technologies, and Partners Healthcare. These companies join dozens of others that have invested in wind because it makes good business sense, allowing the companies to procure clean energy at a stable price for multiple years.
  2. Offshore wind momentum continued during the second quarter, following last year’s completion of the first American offshore wind project in Rhode Island. The Maryland Public Service Commission awarded offshore renewable energy credits (OREC) to two planned offshore wind energy projects that will total 368 MW. Shortly thereafter, the state of Massachusetts issued a request for proposals for between 400 MW and 800 MW of offshore wind power.
  3. Mega wind projects are underway. Second quarter construction and advanced development capacity includes the Power Company of Wyoming’s 3,000 MW Chokecherry Sierra Madre project in Wyoming, as well as MidAmerican Energy’s 2,000 Wind XI project in Iowa. And, although it comes after the time period covered in the second quarter report, just this week American Electric Power announced plans to invest $4.5 billion to build the 2,000 MW Wind Catcher project in Oklahoma.

As we move into the second half of the year, we can feel confident that the wind industry is strong. Expect to hear more good news in the months ahead!

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