The modern wind energy in the United States began in California in the early 1980s with several wind farms in mountain passes in central and Southern California. By the mid-1980s California accounted for more than half of the wind-generated electricity in the world. Most of those projects are still in operation today, albeit with upgraded/ infrastructure.
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Development of the early wind industry was spurred by state and federal policies that sprang up after the oil price shocks of the 1970s. The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) of 1978 required utilities to purchase electricity from renewable sources. The Energy Tax Act of 1978 and the Windfall Profits Tax in 1980 created favorable energy tax credits for renewable power. California added its own tax subsidies.
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From these early roots, several forces coalesced to spur wind energy. In the 1990s and 2000s, wind energy quickly spread across the “Wind Belt,” from Texas on up through the Dakotas, due to the region’s robust and relatively steady winds.1 Research and development and learning-by-doing produced dramatic declines in the cost of electricity from wind turbines. State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Clean Energy Standards institutionalized the requirement to add renewable electricity generation. Combined with continuing federal and state subsidies, these forces increased the wind energy share of national electricity generation from less than 1% in 1990 to about 9% in 2021. If Texas were a country, its 37 gigawatts (GW) of installed wind capacity in 2022 would place it third in the world.
1 Warburg, Philip, An introduction to the state of wind power in the U.S., yale climate connections, October 7, 2019, Link