Renewables dominate new electric generating capacity

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In September 2012, the United States added 433 megawatts of new utility-scale electric generating capacity - and according to a federal report, it all came from renewable resources.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's September 2012 energy infrastructure update provides a summary of recent developments of natural gas, hydropower, electric generation, and electric transmission facilities.  For electric generation, the report provides a breakdown of newly installed capacity by resource type.

According to the report, 5 wind projects came online in September, totaling 300 megawatts of capacity:
  • EDF Group’s 140 MW Phase 1 Pacific Wind in Kern County, California
  • Forsyth Street Advisor LLC’s 57.6 MW Phase 1 Horse Butt Wind Farm in Bonneville County, Idaho
  • KODE Novus I LLC’s 80 MW Phase 1 Novus Wind Farm in Texas County, Oklahoma
  • Fire Island Wind LLC’s 17.6 MW Phase 1 Fire Island Wind Project in Anchorage Borough, Alaska
  • Kodiak Electric Association’s 4.5 MW Phase 2 Pillar Mountain Wind project expansion in Kodiak Island Borough, Alaska
Additionally, 18 solar projects came online in September, totaling 133 MW of capacity.  Among these are a number of projects earning "largest" ranks:
  • NRG Energy & MidAmerican Renewables, LLC’s 50 MW Phase 5 Aqua Caliente Solar Project expansion in Yuma County, Arizona came online.  The expansion brings the Aqua Caliente Project's operational photovoltaic capacity to 250 MW, making it currently the largest photovoltaic facility in the country.
  • Zongyi Solar America’s 20 MW Tinton Falls Solar in Monmouth County, New Jersey, the largest photovoltaic project in New Jersey
  • Southern Sky Renewable Energy LLC’s 5.6 MW Canton Landfill Solar Project in Canton County, Massachusetts, the largest solar facility in New England
The report indicates that no fossil fuel-fired generation came online last month.  The growth in renewable energy may be due to a variety of factors, including a rush to get wind projects built before the federal production tax credit expires at the end of the year, state renewable portfolio standards, and future projections about the cost of traditional fuels.  Nevertheless, wind and solar remain relatively small players in the nation's energy mix, with 4.43% of the nation's total generating capacity coming from wind and only 0.29% coming from solar.  Still, the growth of these resources illustrates recent investment's focus on the renewable power sector.

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