Wind energy gaining in Colorado

Colorado is among the nation’s top states in the development of wind energy, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report found that Colorado last year installed 496 megawatts of new wind power capacity, with the capacity for about 2,301 megawatts of wind power.

Wind energy generation accounted for more than 13 percent of Colorado’s in-state energy generation last year. That ranked Colorado eighth in the nation, according to the report.

Wind energy accounted for 4,000 to 5,000 Colorado jobs last year, according to industry estimates reported by the DOE.

“America’s wind industry is booming,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement.

Nationwide, wind energy became the top new source of electricity generation for the first time last year. Wind represented 43 percent of all new electric additions. The vigorous growth last year was largely due to the anticipation of the end of federal tax incentives.

The tax incentives were renewed, but uncertainty about the incentives will slow wind development in 2013, the report warned.

“Continued low natural gas prices, modest electricity demand growth, and limited near-term demand from state renewables portfolio standards have also put a damper on industry growth expectations,” the report predicted.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will decide this fall on whether to approve another 350 megawatts of wind power proposed by Xcel Energy.

Colorado this year passed a law requiring rural electricity co-ops to double the amount of electricity they get from renewable sources by 2020. Electricity providers that serve most of the state have a 30 percent renewable energy standard to achieve.