U.S. Generators Added 15,000 Net Megawatts of New Power Generation in 2016
U.S. electric generators added about 15,000 net megawatts (MW) of utility-scale generation to the generating fleet last year, the Power Industry's best year since 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) (Washington, D.C.). Last year, asset owners brought over 27,000 MW of utility-scale generation online across the country, but retired about 12,000 MW of utility-scale generation. The net gain of 15,000 MW in 2016 reversed a net loss of 4,000 MW in 2015, the agency said.
Gas-fired generation was the single largest category of new generation that began operating last year, with about 9,000 MW of new units coming online, closely followed by wind (8,700 MW) and solar (7,700 MW). The figure for solar excludes the 3,400 MW of distributed (i.e., rooftop) units that began operating last year, EIA noted.
On a regional basis, capacity additions in 2016 were greatest in the Southeast, Southwest and Rocky Mountain areas, according to Industrial Info's North American Project Platform. On the other end of the spectrum, New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast regions added the least amount of new utility-scale generating capacity last year.
Texas, California and Tennessee were the states that added the most new generation on a total investment value (TIV) basis last year, according to Industrial Info's North American Project Platform. Tennessee leapt into the top three by virtue of the Tennessee Valley Authority's completion of the Watts Bar Unit 2 nuclear unit. In Texas, new windfarms accounted for about $4.5 billion of the $5.7 billion of new power plants that came online there last year. In California, new utility-scale solar power projects valued at about $4.4 billion accounted for most of the $5.2 billion of new utility-scale power projects that began operating in 2016.
At the other end of the spectrum, the states with the least amount of new power projects that began operating in 2016 were Connecticut, Mississippi, Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington, Alaska, Montana, South Carolina and New York. Each of these states had less than $100 million of new power projects begin operating last year.
Looking forward into 2017, Industrial Info expects the power generation buildout to slow from last year's pace. Industrial Info is tracking 43 power generation projects valued at about $7 billion that are scheduled to be completed this year. The Southwest region is expected to be the home for about half the value of all Power projects that finish construction this year.
"After a few lean years, it was good to see a healthy net amount of new utility-scale generation come online in 2016," said Britt Burt, Industrial Info's vice president of research for the Global Power Industry. "The availability of federal tax credits continues to support the growth of renewable power, particularly utility-scale wind and solar. The fact that 3,400 MW of rooftop solar generation came online in 2016 is a sign of how rapidly the Power business is transforming."