The U.S. has seen strong growth in the wind energy industry, and 2012 was a record year for the amount of installed capacity. Over 13,000 megawatts of capacity was installed last year, according to the American Wind Energy Association, which brings the total capacity to 60,007 megawatts nationwide.

In 2013 so far, wind energy has made up over 60 percent of all new generating capacity installed in the United States, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s update. During January and February of 2013, wind energy beat out all other generating sources for new projects, adding six new projects in those two months.

The addition of these projects brings the total amount of installed wind capacity in the United States to 60.1 gigawatts, making it over 5 percent of our electric generation. According to the Energy Information Administration’s latest numbers, this is a sizable bump for the country—in 2012, wind power constituted only about 3.5 percent of U.S. electricity.

Most of this is due in part to states taking the lead to include more wind energy in the mix, attracting developers and economic opportunity to their states. In 2011, only five states hit at least 10 percent in their wind energy mix. The newest numbers for 2013 show that the number has now risen to nine states. The nine states on the list not only gain the benefit of clean and renewable energy to power their states, but they also see new jobs and revenue spring up from this prospering industry.

Lu Nelsen, lucasn@cfra.org, is with The Center for Rural Affairs. The Center for Rural Affairs was established in 1973 as an unaffiliated nonprofit corporation under IRS code 501(c)3. The Center for Rural Affairs was formed by rural Nebraskans concerned about family farms and rural communities, and we work to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities.