Wind Performance Report Summary 1996-1999

report cover page

Wind Performance Report Summary, 1996-1999 (PDF file, 64 pages, 1.2 MB)
Publication Number: 500-01-018. Release Date: October 2001

Additionally, spreadsheets of the tables in the report and appendices are being made available in Microsoft Excel:
Excel Files of Appendices and Data Tables


With rising fossil fuel and natural gas prices, energy shortage concerns as well as environmental impact concerns, the generation of electrical energy using "free", non-polluting wind energy has steadily regained worldwide momentum. Trends throughout the 1990s have shown wind energy to be the fastest growing, most readily financed and implemented renewable energy technology with worldwide operating installed capacity nearing 8,000 Megawatts (MW) in 1998 and exceeding 12,000 MW at the end of 1999.1 With some 3,900 MW of new wind capacity installed worldwide in 1999 alone2, wind is proving to be valuable resource for affordable and reliable electricity generation.

The goal to boost wind energy to 25 percent of California electricity by 2020 can be achieved by extending the federal tax credit (PTC) to December 31, 2001. Along with numerous State sponsored renewable energy initiatives, including the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program, and the Administration's "Wind Powering America" program. In the United States (U.S.), federal and statewide support has helped to increase the market for wind generated electricity.

California has long been a leader in developing wind energy and renewable policies, but that role has changed with the passage of Assembly Bill 1890 in 1998. In the mid-1990s, resources for wind energy hit an all time low as long-term power purchase contracts came to an end. During the period from 1996-1999, significant changes occurred in the structure of the electrical market in California that has affected California's role in wind. This resulted in a major restructuring and consolidation of the wind operators.

By the late 1990s, with Assembly Bill 1890 (AB) and the passing of Senate Bill 90 (SB), renewable energy received a rejuvenating pulse.3 In addition to state programs, renewable energy proponents, and wind facility operators are making use of the new federal production tax credits (PTC) as well as state-funded incentive programs to re-power and replace older turbine technology and add new capacity with newer, more efficient turbines.

Wind operators are now looking for more advanced turbine technology, sophisticated monitoring, and resource management tools to help them maximize production and compete in California's volatile electricity market. Detailed data provided by reports such as the WPRS provide prospective on industry performance, development trends and insight on future development needs for the industry. Ultimately the growth in wind power technology relies not on technology alone but also on the policies that govern the operation and development. Technological needs and governing policies must reinforce each other to meet the challenges of this changing industry.


  1. Wind Power Monthly, Vol. 16, No. 1, January 2000, p.42.
  2. Wind Energy Outlook 2000, AWEA.
  3. Investing in Renewable Electricity Generation in California, California Energy Commission, Publication # 500-00-022, June 2001.


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