New Mexico was ranked third in the nation in wind energy, as the state moves toward adopting more carbon-free energy options following the latest legislative session.
The American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) second-quarter market report showed the state hosting 2,774 megawatts (MW) of wind energy in construction or development, trailing Wyoming’s 4,831 MW and Texas’ 9,015 MW.
New Mexico was ahead of Iowa at 2,623 MW and South Dakota at 2,183 MW.
Texas’ wattage meant it hosted 22 percent of the nation’s total wind energy development, while Wyoming hosted 12 percent and New Mexico had 7 percent.
Iowa was at 6 percent and South Dakota was at 5 percent, records show.
In total, the report showed almost 42 gigawatts worth of wind energy capacity either under construction or in development, while long-term contracts for wind capacity was up 10 percent compared with the first half of 2018.
A megawatt is equal to a million watts, and a gigawatt is 1,000 megawatts. The average microwave oven has about 600 to 1,200 watts.
Buyers of wind energy across the nation included major retailers such as Walmart, Target and Hormel Foods.
The first half of 2019 saw continued increase in interest in wind energy from major companies across the state, while turbine manufactures responding to the increasing demand.
“Strong consumer demand from Fortune 500 businesses and utilities as well as calls from multiple states for offshore projects added to wind power’s growing development pipeline,” the report read.
“At the same time, wind turbine manufacturers saw an increasing number of factory orders for more powerful wind turbines capable of powering almost twice the number of homes as an average wind turbine installed in the past few years.”
AWEA Chief Executive Office Tom Kiernan said the increased investment in wind energy supports and energy source he said was “cleaner” and more affordable than traditional fossil fuel-based energy.
He said there are more than 200 wind farm projects ongoing in 33 states.
“Our industry’s success strengthens the U.S. economy because access to affordable, clean American wind power is a competitive advantage in the eyes of business leaders,” he said.
“And when those businesses invest in U.S. wind energy, it directly benefits the people living and working in our country’s farm, factory, and port communities.”
Kiernan said the wind industry was also bolstered by technological advancements allowing wind turbines to increase their output, but also called on state and federal governments to approve projects to increase power grid capacity to move the energy to market.
“We’re seeing a growing number of wind farms select turbines capable of powering nearly twice as many homes as the average U.S. wind turbine,” he said. “Wind technology innovation is keeping pace with demand, but we can’t afford to neglect the power grid infrastructure that delivers electricity from where it’s made to consumers.”
Wind power emerging in New Mexico
New Mexico’s rise to wind energy prominence began in 2017, when it added wind energy capacity at a higher growth than any other state, records show.
About 1,732 megawatts were put online that year, representing a capital investment of $3 billion.
By 2018, that investment materialized into up to 3,000 jobs in the industry, with about $8.5 million in state and local tax payments by wind projects.
Annual land lease payments were up to $10 million.
By the end of 2018, 1,026 wind turbines were installed, ranking the state at 15th, with 18 wind projects online and 16 larger than 10 megawatts.
Last year, wind energy provided 18.7 percent of New Mexico’s in-state electricity production, ranking the state seventh in the country.
That amount of power generated by wind could power 593,100 New Mexico homes.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sought to capitalize on the growth, passing legislation known as the Energy Transition Act during the 2019 legislative session to raise New Mexico’s renewable portfolio to a goal of 50 percent of the state’s electricity by 2030 and 80 percent by 2040.
Lujan Grisham also called on the state to operate on 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2045.
“The Energy Transition Act fundamentally changes the dynamic in New Mexico,” she said. “This legislation is a promise to future generations of New Mexicans, who will benefit from both a cleaner environment and a more robust energy economy with exciting career and job opportunities.”
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, email@example.com or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.
©2019 the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.)
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