Wind power capacity has surpassed hydroelectric as the nation's leading renewable energy, thanks in part to Texas' booming wind farms, according to Department of Energy figures.
The news was announced in Arlington this morning during the release of the American Wind Energy Association's fourth-quarter report. The 6,478 megawatts installed nationally at the end of 2016 was the second best quarter ever. And that was just enough to push wind to the front in renewable capacity, though hydroelectric still produces more electricity.
"It's reliable. It's affordable. It just makes good business sense," said Tom Kiernan, the association's CEO.
He pointed out that the cost of wind energy has dropped by about two-thirds during the past seven years. The industry group's research showed that Texas still leads the nation with triple the capacity of any other state.
The wind capacity in Texas — 20,321 megawatts — is enough to power the equivalent of 5.7 million average homes. That capacity is nearly one-quarter of the 82,183-megawatt U.S. total.