April 12, 2007 / 7:25 AM / 13 years ago

U.S. wind energy grew 20 pct in 2006: industry group

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Wind energy in the United States grew by 20 percent to 11,600 megawatts (MW) last year, enough to generate power for about 3 million average U.S. homes, the American Wind Energy Association said on Wednesday.

Texas has the biggest wind farm and the most wind power generation, with 2,678 MW of installed turbines, showed an annual survey by the AWEA, the largest U.S. wind energy industry group. California followed with 2,361 MW.

The actual power production of a turbine is generally about a third of its capacity due to intermittent wind.

Wind power is one of the main sources of renewable power in the United States and is becoming more popular as utilities are required by law to increase no-emissions renewable power and as public sentiment for “green” power grows.

About $4 billion was spent on wind energy development last year, the report said.

“These wind power rankings tell the story of a vibrant industry that is growing fast, competing hard, gaining market share, and all the while powering a cleaner, stronger America,” said AWEA executive director Randall Swisher.

The survey said FPL Energy continues to dominate the U.S. wind energy market and manages four times the amount of wind power generation than the company in the second spot, PPM Energy. PPM is a unit of Scottish Power Plc.

FPL Energy manages the biggest single wind farm in the United States, the 736-MW Horse Hollow project in Texas.

GE Energy, a unit of General Electric, is the leader among manufacturers of installed turbine capacity, the report showed, with more than twice that of its closest competitor, Siemens.

Xcel Energy units in Minnesota, Colorado and Texas give the Minneapolis-based utility the most wind generation among power companies and utilities, followed closely by Edison International subsidiary Southern California Edison, based in Los Angeles suburb Rosemead.

The largest installed wind turbine in the United States is of 3 MW made by Vestas operated by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in California, followed by 2.3-MW turbines made by Siemens and installed in Minnesota, North Dakota and Texas.

Last year, 1,524 wind turbines were installed in the United States, with a total generating capacity of 2,554 MW, bringing the average capacity of an installed U.S. turbine to 1.6 MW.

The GE Energy 1.5 MW turbine is the most widely installed, with 764 operating units, followed by the Siemens’ 2.3 MW turbine with 249 installed, the AWEA survey shows.

More information on the survey can be found at the AWEA’s Web site, www.awea.org.

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