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.