Government summary shows use of wind power on the rise

Published: Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 7:57 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 7:57 a.m.

Wind power got a starring role in the federal government's just-released summary on electricity generation and use for 2007.

"Electric Power Annual 2007" was released Wednesday and showed that net generation of electric power increased by 2.3 percent to 4,157 million megawatthours while retail sales rose by 2.6 percent to 3,765 million megawatthours.

Federal officials attributed the increases to continued economic growth in 2007, combined with increased demand for electricity for heating and cooling.

According to the report, the leading source of new electric generating capacity was wind power.

The major points in the report included:

* For the first time, non-hydroelectric renewable energy, led by wind power, was the leading source of new electric generating capacity.

* The U.S. average retail price for electricity increased by 2.6 percent to 9.1 cents per kilowatthour. The East North Central Census Division experienced the largest average price increase at 7 percent, while the New England Census Division average price increased by 4 percent.

* Carbon dioxide emissions from conventional electric generation and combined heat and power plants increased by 2.3 percent in 2007. Meanwhile, estimated emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide continued to decline. Nitrogen oxides emissions dropped by 3.9 percent, and sulfur dioxide emissions decreased by 5.1 percent.

* Drought conditions prevailed in the West and Southeast, contributing to a 14.4 percent year-over-year decline in conventional hydroelectric generation.

* Net generation at nuclear plants increased slightly in 2007 to 806 million megawatthours, despite a small decline in net summer capacity. The average capacity factor for the nuclear generating fleet was 91.8 percent, an all-time high.

* End-of-year coal stocks for 2007 increased 7.3 percent from 141 million tons to 151 million tons. The build in coal stocks in 2007 was considerably less than the 39 percent increase that occurred in 2006.

The entire "Electric Power Annual 2007" can be viewed at:

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