Annual market report from American Wind Energy Association shows Texas leads the country in wind power additions and operates more than 25 percent of nation’s capacity
Austin, TX – Wind power is emerging as America’s top choice for new power, with Texas leading the country in wind power additions, installing a record amount of 3,938 MW in 2019 alone. Operating wind power capacity in the U.S. now stands at over 105 GW, Texas representing more than 25 percent. Nationally, the newly released Wind Powers America Annual Report 2019 reveals that U.S. wind energy supports a record 120,000 American jobs, 530 domestic factories, and $1.6 billion a year in revenue for states and communities that host wind farms.
The U.S. wind industry experienced its third strongest year on record in 2019, as project developers invested nearly $14 billion in new wind projects totaling 9,137 MW. These installations made wind power the number one choice of new utility-scale power generation in 2019, capturing 39 percent of new additions. Total operating wind power capacity increased 9.6 percent to 105,591 MW, with nearly 60,000 wind turbines now operating across 41 states and two territories. This caps off a strong decade of growth that saw America more than triple its wind power capacity to become the largest renewable power resource on a capacity basis.
“Across the state, and our region, we have seen tremendous investment from the wind industry,” said Sergio Contreras, President and CEO of the RGV Partnership. “Well-paying jobs, land-lease payments to our landowners and overall economic growth has benefited our community, and we look forward to this reliability through 2020.”
Wind energy is bringing unrivaled investment to rural America, where 99 percent of wind projects are located. Nationally, wind projects paid over $912 million in state and local taxes. These tax payments help communities improve their school systems, fix roads, and fund emergency services. Additionally, over $700 million in annual land-lease payments provide landowners with a drought-proof cash crop that helps them weather lean years and expand their operations during good times.
“Communities across the nation, especially rural communities, are experiencing first-hand the economic benefits that wind power delivers,” American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Kiernan said. “The wind industry’s rapid and continued growth has meant more family-sustaining jobs, more local manufacturing, more opportunities for veterans, and more support for farming communities, all while providing reliable, low-cost, and zero-carbon electricity for millions of Americans.”
Having finished the past decade with record growth, the wind industry is poised for continued strong expansion in the coming years. Another 44GW of capacity is either under construction or in advanced stages of development. Those projects represent $62 billion in investment in the U.S. economy and enough additional power for 15 million American homes, once they’re built.
Wind is powering Texas jobs
Wind turbine technicians, the workers who build and maintain wind farms, continue to represent the second fastest growing career in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, veterans find wind jobs at a rate 61 percent higher than the average U.S. industry. Texas continues to lead the way for wind power jobs, with over 25,000 wind workers employed in the Lone Star State.
Wind power is one of the few industries creating new American manufacturing jobs. As of 2019, over 530 U.S. factories build wind turbine components, with 46 operating in Texas. Many of these jobs are in rural towns, like Sweetwater, offering young people rewarding careers that allow them to put down roots and support their families without having to leave home.
Strong demand from Utilities and Corporate Buyers Continues
Demand for wind energy set a record in 2019, as utilities and corporate buyers announced over 8,700 MW of new wind power purchase agreements (PPAs). Utilities signed up for over 5,000 MW of wind energy, while corporate buyers, like AT&T, Walmart, and Baker Hughes have announced 3,460 MW of PPAs. This strong demand for wind energy stems from economics – wind’s costs have fallen by 70 percent over the past decade and wind is now the most affordable source of new electricity throughout much of the country.
“Seeing the benefit to surrounding communities, counties and independent school districts, we are proud to attract renewable energy projects like Aviator Wind, a 525 MW project developed by Apex Clean Energy,” said Michael Looney, VP of Economic Development at the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce. “This project will generate more than $140 million in tax revenue, and with corporate partners like McDonald’s and Facebook buying the power, we have seen this ambitious and forward-thinking project become a reality.”
Industry working hard to address challenge of COVID-19
According to AWEA analysis, COVID-19 is putting an estimated 25 GW of wind projects at risk, representing $35 billion in investment. This includes the potential loss of over $8 billion to rural communities in the form of state and local tax payments and land-lease payments to private landowners, as well as the loss of over 35,000 jobs, including wind turbine technicians, construction workers, and factory workers. Like the benefits of wind development, these losses will be felt most strongly in rural communities. The industry will continue working with Congress and other renewable energy leaders to address the challenges of COVID-19 to ensure projects have the flexibility to continue development.
Powering Texas is an alliance of 37 community entities from across the state, bound by a mission to educate and advocate for innovative, sustainable electricity generation in Texas, including the expansion of renewable wind energy. Visit Powering Texas’ website to learn more about how Texas is benefitting from wind investment and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
AWEA is the national trade association for the U.S. wind industry, the largest source of renewable energy in the country. We represent 1,000 member companies, 120,000 jobs in the U.S. economy, and a nationwide workforce located across all 50 states, AWEA serves as a powerful voice for how wind works for America. Members include global leaders in wind power and energy development, turbine manufacturing, and component and service suppliers. They gather each year at the Western Hemisphere’s largest wind energy event, the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, next in Indianapolis, June 7-10, 2021. WINDPOWER 2021 will be housed within CLEANPOWER, the new exhibition hub for utility-scale renewable energy, bringing together wind power, solar power, and energy storage industries. Visit AWEA’s website to learn more about the enormous economic benefits wind power brings to America and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Cait Lower, Powering Texas