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Iowa, Texas tops in wind power efforts

Trade group for the U.S. wind industry releases annual report, showing increased installations on land, but still no lift-off for offshore options.

Wind turbines from E.ON Climate and Renewables make up a 781.5-megawatt wind farm around Roscoe, Texas. As of 2009, it's the largest wind farm complex in the U.S. E.ON Climate & Renewables

Iowa and Texas lead the nation in wind energy efforts, according to the annual report released Thursday from the American Wind Energy Association.

Iowa claims the title for the state with the largest percentage of electricity from wind energy. As of the end of 2009, over 14 percent of Iowa's power was from wind energy.

And while the large state of Texas may still only get a modest percentage of its power from wind energy, it actually has the most wind power capacity of any U.S. state. Texas is also home to the largest wind farm in the U.S.

AWEA, the national trade organization for the wind industry, said that as of the end of 2009 the U.S. installed over 10,000 megawatts worth of wind turbines, enough wind power capacity to provide 2.4 million homes with electricity. (Interestingly, AWEA notes alongside that statistic that three large nuclear power plants could generate the same amount of electricity.)

The increased wind capacity brings the U.S. total to 35,000 megawatts. While that may sound like a lot, it's only enough to power 9.7 million homes annually.

There were 36 U.S. states with utility-scale wind projects installed at the close of 2009. And not surprisingly, General Electric seems to have been a large supplier to those states. The AWEA report said that GE, which has been heavily investing in its wind turbine business in both Europe and the U.S., was the No. 1 seller of wind turbines in the U.S. in 2009.

A modest number of U.S. homeowners and small businesses also showed interest in personal wind energy. Small wind, which the AWEA categorizes as those turbines with a maximum capacity of 100kW, grew 15 percent in 2009 with about 20 megawatts of generating capacity installed in the U.S.

But despite increased interest in wind on land, the U.S. still has no major offshore wind capacity to speak of, according to AWEA. The organization noted that there are seven potential projects in permitting and planning stages awaiting approval from federal and state authorities, as well as regulators.