Oklahoma remained in eighth place in wind-generation capacity last year but added more than 500 megawatts from new wind farms, according to a federal report on wind energy released Tuesday.
The state had more than 2,000 megawatts of generating capacity from wind at the end of 2011, up from almost 1,500 megawatts in 2010.
Oklahoma generated about 7 percent of its electricity from wind in 2011, putting the state in 10th place in a separate ranking.
One megawatt can power about 250 homes. That means Oklahoma had enough wind capacity last year to power 500,000 homes.
Texas leads the nation in wind-power capacity with almost 10,400 megawatts. South Dakota, at 22 percent, leads all states for percentage of its electricity from wind.
With additional wind development in 2012, Oklahoma is on track to meet the state's 2015 goal of 15 percent renewable energy by the end of this year, said Kylah McNabb, wind development specialist for the state Commerce Department.
“We certainly have the wind market to support moving to 20 percent,” McNabb said. “The wind resource is there. It would be a matter of making sure the utilities are comfortable with managing that much wind on their system.”
Among the new wind projects this year is the 235-megawatt Chisholm View development north of Enid, which will sell most of its electricity to utility customers in Alabama. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Panhandle will get its first wind farm, McNabb said.
The federal report, the sixth annual Wind Technologies Market Report by the Energy Department, said wind accounted for one-third of new electricity capacity in 2011. Natural gas was at 49 percent. Companies invested $14.3 billion on wind projects last year.
With almost 47,000 megawatts of wind capacity installed, the United States trailed only China in the world rankings last year. China had more than 62,000 megawatts of wind generation available in 2011, according to the report.
In the United States, domestic manufacturing provided two-thirds of the components for wind developments last year, up from 35 percent in 2005. Average turbine size and rotor length have increased to make wind power more efficient, the report said.
“You see these continual modifications and advancements in the designs and materials being used to help squeeze that much more efficiency out of the fuel, which is the wind,” McNabb said.
The federal report, written by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, comes as the extension of a federal wind production tax credit increasingly becomes a presidential campaign issue.
President Barack Obama has touted the tax credit as part of his energy policy, while presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney has called for its elimination. Romney's position puts him at odds with several Republican lawmakers and governors.
The incentive, which has been around since 1992, gives a 2.2 cent per kilowatt hour credit for electricity from wind generation.
The credit cost is about $1.3 billion in the 2012 fiscal year, according to estimates from Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation. Without congressional action, the incentive expires Dec. 31.
Uncertainty over the credit's future led wind-tower manufacturer DMI Industries to announce the closure of two factories last week, including one in Tulsa. More than 165 people will be laid off in Tulsa by November after current orders are fulfilled, parent company Otter Tail Corp. said.
A report for the American Wind Energy Association said up to 37,000 jobs could be lost nationwide if the production tax credit isn't renewed.
We certainly have the wind market to support moving to 20 percent. The wind resource is there. It would be a matter of making sure the utilities are comfortable with managing that much wind on their system.
Wind development specialist for the state Commerce Department