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Illinois leaps to fourth place in national wind power capacity
Illinois’ alternative-energy cred is blowing hot.
The state’s wind power capacity in 2012 boosted its national standing to No. 4 from No. 7 a year earlier, a report released Wednesday shows.
The report is being published as Chicago is set to host the WINDPOWER convention May 5-8 at McCormick Place.
Illinois had its strongest year ever in wind installations in 2012, installing 491 turbines, or more than the 404 turbines installed in 2011. The 823 megawatts installed during 2012 can power more than 210,000 homes, and the 3,568 megawatts installed cumulatively in Illinois can power more than 900,000 homes.
Illinois’ wind-power expansion is part of a national trend. Cheaper wind energy prices and more utilities signing longer-term wind-energy contracts gave wind energy its biggest growth ever in 2012, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), a wind-energy advocacy group that issued the yearly report.
“Wind energy was the leading new form of electricity in the nation last year,” said AWEA spokesman Peter Kelley.
Nationwide, the amount of wind energy generated jumped by 28 percent, to 60 gigawatts, or enough to power 3.5 million more households than in 2011. The installed wind capacity in the U.S. can now power more than 15 million homes.
In Illinois, wind energy accounted for 3.9 percent of the state’s total power generation, up slightly from 3.2 percent in 2011.
Wind accounted for 3.5 percent of the nation’s electricity supply in 2012, up from 2.9 percent in 2011, the study showed.
Kelley said the wind-power industry expects to see more significant growth this year because the prices are so competitive and renewed federal tax credits now apply to companies that start wind-power projects rather than finish them within the calendar year.
Photo by Brennan Linsley