Turbine Timeline: 2000s

The U.S. wind industry and AWEA expand exponentially in the 2000s

2001

  • AWEA’s WINDPOWER conference brings more than 1,000 attendees to Washington, D.C.

2003

  • The first commercial 3 megawatt (MW) wind turbine in the United States is installed in Texas by Vestas.
  • Wind industry proactively responds to concerns about impacts on bats. After evidence of higher than anticipated bat fatalities at several wind energy facilities in the Eastern United States, AWEA, NREL, the USFWS, and Bat Conservation International launch the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC) to research impacts and develop mitigation options.

2005

  • Energy Policy Act – which includes an extension of PTC through 2007 – passes and is signed by President George W. Bush. The legislation triggers a five-fold increase in U.S. wind capacity across the next two years.
  • AWEA develops a “grid code with utilities and power system reliability authorities, allowing widespread reliable integration of wind turbines onto wholesale power grids nationwide.
  • Five wind turbine manufacturing facilities operate in the United States, and domestic content throughout the U.S. industry is approximately 25 percent.

2006

  • 10,000 MW milestone reached for total U.S. wind capacity, thanks to the federal PTC, RPS state incentives.

2007

  • Department of Interior establishes Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee to make recommendations on rules related to siting wind projects. The Committee includes representatives from industry, environmental NGOs (eNGOs), state wildlife agencies and tribes.
  • The first 105-meter (345-foot) wind tower is installed in the United States by Enel Green Power North America. The new technology, along with the increased availability of large rotors, contributes to a 90 percent reduction in the cost of wind energy since 1980.
  • AWEA’s WINDPOWER conference and exhibition brings 7,000 attendees to Los Angeles. 

2008

  • DOE publishes the comprehensive technical report, 20% Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply, under the administration of President Bush. With contributions from AWEA, the report concludes that it is feasible for 20 percent of all U.S. electricity to be supplied by wind by 2030.
  • AWEA moves into its current LEED Gold offices at 1501 M Street NW, in the heart of Washington, D.C.
  • AWEA, member companies and environmental allies launch the American Wind Wildlife Institute. AWEA and the wind industry continue proactive efforts to avoid, minimize and mitigate wildlife impacts by establishing a partnership with the conservation community.
  • The United States reaches 20,000 MW in wind capacity nationwide, with the average turbine size at 1.66 MW. The country regains the world lead on wind energy by the end of the year, surpassing long-time leader Germany. The United States boasts over 44 new, announced or expanded wind turbine manufacturing facilities.
  • AWEA advocacy helps get the investment tax credit for small wind systems enacted. This provision allows a tax credit for up to 30 percent of the cost of a small wind system for on-site use.

2009

  • AWEA welcomes new CEO Denise Bode at its biggest WINDPOWER conference of 23,000 attendees in Chicago. The conference is the main meeting place for the wind industry in the United States, with critical talks from international industry experts, a massive exhibition of wind products, and important networking opportunities with wind professionals.  AWEA members ranks rise to nearly 2,500.
  • The Obama administration increases funding for renewable energy development. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 extends the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and investment Tax Credit (ITC) for wind energy through 2012. The financial crisis slashes profits and investors’ ability to use tax credits. To address this, ARRA also creates a new reimbursement program (Section 1603) that allows wind project developers to receive a refund in lieu of the tax credits. The change makes the wind industry a bright spot in the midst of the recession.

2010

  • The United States reaches 40,280 MW of installed wind capacity. Having doubled across the preceding five years, domestic content reaches 50 percent – which means half the value of all operating wind power equipment is made in the USA. However, the United States temporarily loses the lead as the world’s biggest wind energy provider as China tops out at 41,800 MW.

2011

  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) passes Order 1000, which improves how transmission is planned and paid for. This ruling helps expand the U.S. transmission system in a way that supports the wind energy industry. Its passage is thanks in part to AWEA’s active role in the rule-making process.

2012

  • RPS policies reach 29 states and the District of Columbia. By the end of this year, another eight states set goals to obtain more energy from renewable sources.
  • Wind power reaches 60,000 MW of cumulative wind capacity in the United States, equivalent to powering nearly 15 million homes. Wind becomes the No. 1 source of new electric generating capacity for the first time, accounting for 42 percent.
  • The United States has more than 550 manufacturing facilities, producing more than two thirds of the materials for wind turbines domestically. Because of this robust growth, the wind industry employs a record 75,000 Americans.
  • The USFWS finalizes voluntary Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines largely based on the consensus recommendations of the industry, eNGO, and state wildlife officials who participated in the Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee.  By following the guidelines, the wind industry agrees to be held to a higher standard for wildlife protection than any other energy industry, including going beyond requirements in federal law.
  • The U.S. wind energy industry has its strongest year ever, installing a record 13,131 megawatts (MW) of electric generating capacity, achieving over 60,000 MW of cumulative wind capacity, and delivering more than 10% of the electricity generated in nine states.

2013

  • On the heels of a unanimous Board vote and endorsements from public figures including Senator Rob Portman and former governor Christine Todd Whitman, Tom Kiernan joins AWEA as its new CEO. Kiernan formerly headed the National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA), more than doubling its supporter base and growing revenues tenfold.  Before NPCA, Kiernan gained business and political experience at Arthur Andersen, as President of the New Hampshire Audubon Society, and as a senior-level official in George H.W. Bush’s administration, where he won the Gold Medal for gaining consensus with businesses and environmentalists on a major pollution-control project at the Grand Canyon.

  • Wind energy has grown into a significant portion of America’s mainstream energy supply, and AWEA publishes a first-of-its-kind report on Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Recommended Practices, helping wind project operators to establish and adopt industry-wide practices.
  • A bipartisan coalition of governors calls for policy certainty for the industry to continue crucial economic growth.  In the previous year, the wind industry pumped $25 billion into the economy by building wind farms and supported more than 80,000 American jobs.  The governors, in an open letter to congressional leaders, ask Congress to provide the certainty needed to keep those investments flowing and to retain jobs in local communities.
  • American wind power tops 4% of the U.S. power grid, delivering 31% of all new generating capacity over the past five years.  In Iowa and South Dakota, wind power exceeds 25% of total electricity production, and provides over 5% of the electricity generated in 17 states.

2014

  • Wind power in the U.S. starts to rebound following year of policy uncertainty, with a record number of projects and generating capacity under construction reported.

  • Wind energy saves Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic states $1 billion during the Polar Vortex weather event, improving electric reliability and protecting consumers from energy price spikes.  In early January frigid Arctic air blankets the eastern U.S. when the “polar vortex” holding cold air near the North Pole weakens.  This drives unusually high demand for electricity and many power plants fail.   With high demand and low supply, electricity and natural gas prices rise to dozens of times their normal level in many regions.  Wind energy provides critical electricity supply when most needed, keeping the lights on and reducing the impact of price spikes in other power sources.
  • Wind power offers historic low prices, marking the start of a trend toward more direct wind energy purchases by traditional consumer brands and tech companies.  By the end of the second quarter, leading brands like Google, IKEA, MARS, and Microsoft announce direct investments in wind energy through long-term contracts or direct ownership, alongside a variety of industries constructing onsite utility-scale wind turbines including a brewery, a produce processing plant, and a tribal casino.
  • New national poll shows wide majorities of both Republicans and Democrats want more American wind power and back an extension of the production tax credit (PTC) so American workers can make more of our own energy here at home.  Over 70% of registered voters support continuing the PTC, including 63% of registered Republicans and 74% of Independents.  
  • New record set for wind on the grid on Texas’ ERCOT system, with over 10,000 MW of wind.  
  • By year end, American wind power generated 4.4% of all U.S. electricity, the fifth largest electricity source in the U.S.  Iowa led the nation with nearly 29% of its electricity generation provided by wind power, followed by South Dakota at 25% percent and Kansas at 22%.  Wind energy provided more than 10% percent of the electricity produced in nine states.
  • All renewable energy sources combined now deliver 13 percent of the nation’s electricity, with wind energy providing more than one-third of that total.
  • The US continues to be the world’s largest producer of wind energy.

2015

  • The Department of Energy releases the Wind Vision report that quantifies the economic, environmental and social benefits of a wind energy future.  The report shows that U.S. wind power could supply up to 35% of the nation’s electricity demand by 2050, and outlines a roadmap for growing the industry to deliver more than 600,000 wind-related jobs in manufacturing, installation, maintenance and supporting services.

  • Wind energy is found to be the lowest cost solution for complying with the Clean Power Plan (CPP), emerging as the best way to cost-effectively reduce emissions in a study by the nonpartisan Energy Information Administration, and accounting for 57% of the optimal energy mix to comply with the CPP.   Outside sources confirm these findings; Navigant’s analysis of the CPP also finds that wind energy accounts for the vast majority of renewable energy additions under the lowest-cost compliance solution.
  • A new report shows a path to access untapped, stronger wind resources across America through new technology that unlocks wind development opportunity in all 50 states.  Advanced turbines can reach stronger winds higher above the ground and eventually bring wind energy development to every state in America.  "Wind generation has more than tripled in the U.S. in just six years” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. "By producing the next generation of larger and more efficient wind turbines, we can create thousands of new jobs…as we fully unlock wind power as a critical national resource."
  • The U.S. wind energy industry announces new practices to reduce overall impacts on bats.  AWEA leads the charge to establish a new voluntary operating protocol, expected to reduce bat impacts  from operating wind turbines up to 30% by limiting turbine operations in low-wind speed conditions during migration season.  “The adoption of this protocol to reduce impacts to bats is a continuation of our legacy of care for wildlife and the environment,” says Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO. “American wind power is strongly committed to producing one of the safest and cleanest forms of energy, for people and wildlife."
  • California adopts a 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard, creating new opportunities for wind energy in CA and beyond.
  • In December, wind energy gets a boost as Congress passes a multi-year extension of renewable energy tax credits, securing several years of predictable policies encouraging private investment. The plan is expected to drive more development, especially as utilities, corporate customers, and municipalities seek more renewable energy.  Under the agreement, the Production Tax Credit is extended through 2016, and then continues at 80% of present value in 2017, 60% in 2018, and 40% in 2019.  As before, the rules allow wind projects to qualify as long as they start construction before the end of the periods.  This extension is expected to mitigate the boom-bust cycles seen in the prior two decades of tax uncertainty, creating a business environment primed for new growth.  
  • Wind energy is again the top source for new electric generating capacity in the US; by year end, it supplies 4.7% of the total electricity generated.  The US remains the world’s top  wind energy producer.

2016

  • U.S. wind energy capacity has tripled over eight years, surpassing the 80 gigawatt (GW) mark at the end of the year - enough to power 24 million typical American homes.  Wind turbine technician is the fastest-growing job in the country. 

  • American wind power surpasses conventional hydropower to become the nation’s leading renewable resource.
  • In October, the U.S. sees its  first operational offshore wind turbines, as the new Block Island wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island comes online.  With five turbines able to power about 17,000 homes, this project marks the start of a new phase of America’s wind industry.  Nearly 80% of U.S. electricity demand occurs in coastal and Great Lakes states, areas where offshore wind has vast potential to deliver clean, reliable electricity - as much as four times the U.S. grid’s current capacity.  With 18 projects in development spanning 11 states representing 9,100 MW, U.S. offshore wind is on its way.
  • Wind delivered in record levels in many states.  Wind energy delivered over 30% of the electricity produced in Iowa and South Dakota.  Kansas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota generated over 20% of their electricity from wind, while 20 states now produce more than 5% of their electricity from wind energy. ERCOT and SPP compete for wind power penetration records, both nearing 50% wind energy penetration on several occasions.
  • Awakened to the potential of low-cost, reliable renewable energy, corporate purchasers have procured more than 5,000 MW of wind energy through PPAs.  Major corporate renewable energy announcements pour inthis year: Google announces it will run entirely on renewable energy by 2017, with 95% of that coming from wind.  General Motors will use wind to power a Texas factory making 1,200 SUVs a day.  Eighty-three companies, including GM, Microsoft, and Mars have committed to go 100% renewable.  Why?  It’s economical, and with no fuel cost, buyers know up front what price they’ll pay for wind energy years down the road.
  • By year end, wind energy is delivering more than 5% of America’s electricity.  With federal policy stability secured, the U.S. wind industry installed more than 8,200 MW and now has more than 82 GW total installed capacity, enough to power 24 million American homes. Technology advancements have reduced costs by two-thirds since the turn of the decade, making it a smart business investment on all counts.

2017

  • American wind power is now the largest source of renewable energy generating capacity, thanks to more than 100,000 wind workers across all 50 states. Growing this made-in-the-USA clean energy resource helps rural communities pay for new roads, bridges, and schools, while bringing back manufacturing jobs to the Rust Belt.  In total, wind supports more American jobs than nuclear, natural gas, coal, or hydroelectric power plants. Wind will continue its booming job creation in the years ahead, with wind-related jobs hitting 248,000 by 2020, according to a new report from Navigant Consulting.

Wind Today: America’s Fastest-Growing Energy Resource

The visionaries who created AWEA saw wind power as a technology that could play an increasingly significant role in meeting America’s electrical power needs – and it has. Wind is a homegrown, renewable energy source that's a leading solution to climate change and water issues. The technology is now among the most cost-competitive, and innovations are likely to bring the cost of wind energy down even more. American wind energy pioneers, AWEA, and its member companies have created one of the most exciting energy options in existence.