US onshore wind generating capacity increased 74% from 2013 to 2019 to a total of 104GW, including 9.6GW built in 2019. The average US construction cost for onshore wind generators fell from $1,895 per kilowatt (kW) in 2013 to $1,391/kW in 2019, according to US Energy Information Administration’s latest construction cost data. However, wind capacity and construction costs vary significantly by region.
Average onshore wind construction costs for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages about 90% of Texas’s electric load, totaled $1,114/kW in 2019 and were less expensive than the US average for that year. ERCOT installed the most wind capacity of any US electricity market region in 2019 (3.5 GW) and also had the most total wind capacity (26 GW) as of December 2019. Favourable market conditions, wholesale prices, and geographic advantages contribute to lower construction costs in ERCOT.
In 2019, the average construction cost for wind capacity was lower in ERCOT than it was in neighboring market regions Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). The average construction cost for wind in SPP, which manages the electric grid in all or parts of 14 states including northwest Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, was $1,426/kW. In MISO, which covers the Midwest United States as well as parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, the average construction cost for wind in 2019 was $1,637/kW. Average construction costs in both SPP and MISO were above the US average in 2019.
All three market regions—ERCOT, SPP, and MISO—are in the Wind Belt, an area in the central part of the United States where some of the country’s best wind resources and a large share of US wind capacity are located. Wind Belt states, such as New Mexico, Kansas, and Colorado, were among the least expensive in the United States for constructing wind generating capacity from 2013 to 2019.
Like many states in the Wind Belt, California had significant wind capacity (5.9 GW) at the end of 2019. However, California had relatively high average wind plant construction costs, averaging $2,310/kW for new wind installations between 2013 and 2019. The high costs could be driven by a variety of factors, including state policies and regulations, land use restrictions, and difficulties in developing wind projects. (Source: EIA; principal contributors: Sara Hoff, Alexander Mey).