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Utility-Scale Wind and Solar Farms Thrive in a Down Power Market

May 11, 2018
The construction of wind farms and, to a lesser degree, solar facilities, look pretty healthy indeed.

While U.S. Department of Commerce data shows the overall value of new construction numbers for private construction of electric power plants is down 7% year-over-year through March, there appears to be a pocket of growth in the power market — construction of renewables facilities. According to data from the U.S. government’s Electric Information Administration (EIA), the construction of wind farms and, to a lesser degree, solar facilities, look pretty healthy indeed.

Electrical Marketing’s editors looked at the latest EIA data (through 2016, released Nov. 2017) for renewables facilities either in the final stages of regulatory approval or the early stages of construction and found more than 50 facilities expected to generate 100 megawatts (MW) or more. A list of those facilities is on page 2. Wind farms dominated the list with 42 of the 50 largest projects.

The largest of these facilities, now in the final stages of regulatory approval, is the Power Company of Wyoming’s Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project. If built, the group of four wind farms will have more than 1,000 turbines generating a combined total of 3,000MW at a total construction cost of $6 billion. It will provide power to customers throughout the western United States.

The largest solar farms currently under development are quite a bit smaller than the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind wind farm in Wyoming, with the three largest solar installations producing about 200MW — the Mount Signal Solar Farm 3, Imperial County, CA; Buckthorn Solar 1, Pecos, TX; Wright Solar Park, Merced, CA; and Castle Gap Solar, Upton, TX. Texas dominated the list of larger renewable installations with 20 of the largest projects.