Colorado ranks high for wind power

Colorado ranks among the top 10 states for the proportion of electricity generated by wind power and the capacity of distributed systems, according to reports released by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Colorado ranks seventh in the proportion of in-state generation of electricity from wind at 17.3 percent. In 2016, 61 megawatts of utility scale wind capacity was installed in Colorado, bringing the total in utility scale wind capacity to more than 3,000 megawatts.

Colorado ranks eighth in total wind capacity installed in distributed systems that supply electricity directly to homes, businesses and farms with 27.3 megawatts of capacity installed between 2003 and 2016.

According to the Energy Department reports, the wind energy industry added more than 8,200 megawatts of capacity in the United States in 2016 — about 27 percent of all energy capacity additions. In 2016, wind generated about 6 percent of U.S. electricity. Fourteen states now get more than 10 percent of their electricity from wind. The reports covered the following market sectors: land-based utility scale, offshore and distributed wind.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. wind energy almost doubled from about 120 million megawatt hours generated in 2011 to more than 226 million megawatt hours in 2016.

The report also shows the effects of wind power on the U.S. workforce in supporting 101,738 jobs related to project development, siting, turbine manufacturing, transportation, and other sectors — an increase of more than 30 percent from 2015.

“The wind industry continues to install significant amounts of new capacity, and supplied about 6 percent of total U.S. electricity in 2016,” said Daniel Simmons, acting assistance secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy. “As our reports explain, a combination of federal subsidies, state mandates and technological advancements continue to help drive new wind capacity additions.”