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As the U.S. wind energy industry stayed on pace for another record year, Texas for the first time supplanted historic leader California as the top state in cumulative wind power capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) "Second Quarter Market Report."

The report also shows that U.S. developers brought online a capacity total of 822 MW in the first half of the year. With the strong growth, the U.S.'s cumulative wind power capacity surged to 9,971 MW.

Texas' cumulative total now stands at 2,370 MW of capacity, followed by California's 2,323 MW. Texas edged ahead of California by adding a total of 375 MW, about half of the total amount installed in the country since the beginning of the year.

According to AWEA, California has led the nation in installed wind capacity uninterruptedly for nearly 25 years, ever since the first wind farms were built there in late 1981. At one time the Golden State was host to more than 80% of the wind capacity in the entire world.

While Texas took first place from the perennial state leader, development activity in California has continued, with PPM Energy's (PPM) 150-MW Shiloh Wind Project in Solano County and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's 24-MW project near Rio Vista coming online earlier in the year.

AWEA says the industry forges ahead, despite delays in some projects due to radar issues. AWEA forecasts that the industry remains on track to install more than 3,000 MW of new wind capacity, which would decisively eclipse the previous record of 2,431 MW set in 2005.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that slightly less than 10,000 MW of new natural gas plants will be brought online in 2006, and that less than 400 MW of new coal- and oil-fired generating plants will be added, making wind power second only to natural gas in new capacity and new power generation for the second year in a row.

"Wind energy works for America's economy, environment and energy security," says AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. "Continuing the federal commitment to this clean energy source will keep us on the road to a sustainable energy future."


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