Midwestern state installs most new wind turbines in 2011
A familiar feature of the Western vista is moving speedily east.
The American Wind Energy Association announced last month that what it called a “bumper crop” of wind turbine installations is changing the landscape — both literally and figuratively — of historically wind turbine-free states like Nevada, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Minnesota.
Energy companies, school systems, cities and counties in Illinois installed 404 new turbines last year, putting it ahead of other states that are also investing heavily in wind power as a way to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Close on its heels were Minnesota, with 331 new turbines; California, 328; Iowa, 282; and Colorado, 262.
The power produced by the turbines usually complements the energy sources available for municipalities and private energy companies to utilize or sell. The government-owned Tennessee Valley Authority started the New Year with the addition of 201 megawatts from ENEL Green Power’s Caney River wind farm in Elk County, Kan., 150 megawatts from NextEra Energy Resources’ White Oak Energy Center in McLean County, Ill., 101 megawatts from EDP Renewables North America’s Lost Lakes wind farm in Dickinson County, Iowa, and an additional 83 megawatts from EDP Renewables’ Pioneer Prairie site in Howard and Mitchell counties, Iowa, which began producing wind energy for TVA in 2010 according to corporate information.
In a press release, the AWEA alleges that heavy investment in turbine construction proves tax incentives implemented by the Obama administration are working. Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association said the federal Production Tax Credit “leveraged an average of more than $16 billion a year in private investment over the last several years and supported tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.”
While wind farm construction employs large numbers of technical workers, however, only a fraction of that number enjoy long-term employment maintaining the turbines.