In these economic times it often seems there is a lot to be worried about, even to the point of depression. So, it’s nice when you hear some good news about our world today. Last Wednesday, in the Energy Information Administration Annual Report it was released that for the first time in the history of the United States, renewable energy sources accounted for the largest increase of U.S. electrical capacity.

Change started occurring in 2007 in ways that many never thought they would see but are happy they are here to witness. It’s a paradigm shift. Yes, it would be even more exciting if this change was actually that renewable energy sources accounted for the largest share of electrical power in the United States, period, but we’ll take what we can get, when we get it!

According to the report, total electrical capacity increased by 2.3 percent, from 4,065 megawatt hours in 2006 to 4,157 MWh in 2007. Out of that, wind power alone accounted for the largest portion of the energy net increase.

Even though wood and wood-derived fuels were the leading renewable resource for electrical generation, their output levels remained stable. Wind generation was the second largest renewable energy source. Geothermal power plants and other biomass sources pick up the remainder of the renewable energy sources.

Another amazing fact buried in this document was the increase in wind energy over the past 10 years. In 2007, wind accounted for 32.7 percent of total net generation from non-hydroelectric renewable sources, compared with 4.3 percent in 1997!

Electrical generation from hydroelectric plants, which provides the largest portion of electricity not generated by fossil fuels, declined more than 14 percent in this same period due mainly to droughts in 2007 in the West and Southeast.

What all of this mumbo-jumbo means is that while hydroelectric remains at the top of the charts for non-fossil fuel energy generation, its contribution is declining. Wood and wood derived fuels are number one for renewable resource energy generation, but this source is remaining stable while wind generated electricity is taking off.

We’ve come a long way, baby, and we need to celebrate the baby steps have been achieved! We’ve still got a ways to go. Renewable energy accounts for only a total of 2.5 percent of total electrical capacity, with 105 million MWh of total net generation. Hopefully, we’re on the right track to becoming more sustainable and, if we’re lucky and do things right, the tracks will be light rail!


If you’d like to read the Energy Annual Report, check it out here:

www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epa_sum.html