Winds of Change

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) estimates that wind energy generates more than 10 billion kWh annually, enough to power 1 million U.S. homes. From 1997 to 2001, this market grew an average of 24.5%, and by 2020, wind energy could make up 6% of the United States' electricity supply. If you're an electrical contractor looking to branch into a new market segment, you may want to consider specializing in the installation of wind turbines. The two tables above depict the hot spots for wind energy as well as the five largest wind farms currently operating in the United States. FPL Energy, Inc., a subsidiary of Florida Power and Light Co., is building the $300 million Stateline Wind Farm along the Washington/Oregon border. About 300 660kW turbines will be built in Washington, and another 80 turbines will generate energy in Oregon. The turbines will collectively produce a maximum output of more than 250MW of electricity, which could power more than 21,600 Northwest homes.

Solar Energy: A Hot Market

Fueled by the Million Solar Roofs Initiative, which hopes to install solar energy systems on 1 million U.S. buildings by 2010, photovoltaics also presents a new market opportunity for electrical contractors. As part of this initiative, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission recently awarded a contract to Berkeley, Calif.-based PowerLight Corp. to install a 675kW solar electric system on the roof of the Moscone Center. San Francisco voters approved a proposition to authorize the city to issue as much as $100 million in revenue bonds to fund renewable energy projects. Additionally, production has begun on a 115kW solar electric system on the roof of two Brooklyn, N.Y., buildings. The system will cover 11,500 sq ft of combined roof area. Worldwide, the U.S. Department of Energy expects the photovoltaics market to exceed $1.5 billion by 2005.