(Source: David Shaffer Star Tribune, Minneapolis — South Dakota, a land of prairie breezes, has jumped to No. 1 among states in the share of electricity it gets from wind power.
It went from No. 4 to the top spot, leaping over Minnesota, which has slipped a notch to No. 4, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) annual report released Thursday.
Overall, U.S. wind power capacity grew 31 percent in 2011, accounting for 35 percent of all new electricity generation capacity, the industry trade group said.
“This shows what wind power is capable of: building new projects, powering local economies and creating jobs,” AWEA Chief Executive Denise Bode said.
South Dakota, which got 22 percent of its power from wind, and No. 2 Iowa (19 percent) are among the five states that received more than 10 percent of their electricity from wind turbines last year, the report said.
Minnesota’s wind power share was nearly 13 percent. The other leaders were North Dakota (15 percent) and Wyoming (10 percent).
Iowa also led the nation in the number of wind power jobs, with more than 6,000, the report said. Six other states had at least 4,000 jobs each, the report said. Minnesota did not make the list.
About 3 percent of U.S. power came from wind last year. The industry is seeking to provide 20 percent by 2030.
Wind development has been helped by the federal Production Tax Credit, or PTC, which leverages as much as $20 billion a year in private investment, Bode said. But the credit is set to expire at the end of this year.
Art Whittemore, chief financial officer for Gamesa Technology Corp.’s North America unit, said the longer Congress waits to decide whether to extend the credit, the more it will slow wind development.
“Even if they extended the PTC today, it’s already too late for 2013 because the development cycle is too long,” Whittemore told Bloomberg News. “And it’s very important that it isn’t just a one-year extension — a one-year extension is almost no good.”
Bloomberg News contributed to this report. David Shaffer — 612-673-7090
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Source: David Shaffer Star Tribune, Minneapolis