Minn. wind energy capacity rises 22 percent

Wind turbine
A wind turbine in southwest Minnesota in a file photo.
MPR Photo/Mark Steil

Minnesota moved up a notch in U.S. wind power rankings last year, increasing its wind energy production capacity 22 percent.

Minnesota passed the state of Washington in 2010, and now ranks fourth in the nation in wind power production.

Elizabeth Salerno with the American Wind Energy Association said Minnesota's wind power industry shows no signs of slowing down this year.

"There's a handful of projects under construction totaling over 450 megawatts for the state," Salerno said. "That does suggest a high level of activity in the state. Which means a lot of construction jobs and all the jobs associated with putting these projects in the ground."

Minnesota wind companies added almost 400 megawatts of capacity last year, bringing the total to about 2200 megawatts. The state added wind generators at a faster rate than the nation as a whole -- U.S. wind energy production increased by 15 percent in 2010.

That's a sharp drop from 2009, which saw an almost 40 percent gain. Texas is the national leader, with five times as much wind power as Minnesota.

Iowa ranks second, California is in third place. Worldwide, China produces the most wind energy, edging slightly ahead of the U.S. in 2010 for the first time.