Top 10 States Using Wind Power for Electricity

Source: By Tomas Lucero, Digital Energy • Posted: Monday, March 9, 2015

These are the top 10 states generating electricity with wind power, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Long before Nikola Tesla learned to harness electricity, Mother Earth gave her own energy in the wind.

Today to face the dangers of climate change, humanity races to perfect wind energy production. Globally, the European Union and China lead this experiment, with America in coming in at third. In the period between the beginning of 2005 and the end of 2014, there was an average annual growth of 25.6 percent in this clean energy source. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that by 2030, the nation will derive 20 percent of its energy makeup from the wind.

Energy Digital looked at the EIA’s production data for wind energy in 2012 and 2013 to isolate the 10 states that are making the greatest strides toward harnessing the wind.

10. Washington – 7.004 million MWh, 6.12 percent increase from 2012

According to the EIA, Washington leads in electricity generation from all renewable resources. More than three-fourths of its electricity is generated from green resources. The state’s efforts to generate green energy are based on its Energy Independence Act, enacted in 2006. The state’s most important renewable energy resource is hydroelectric. The main source of its hydroelectric energy is the Columbia River, which is second only to the Mississippi River in the volume of its flow. The Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River is the largest hydropower facility in the United States.

9. Colorado – 7.230 million MWh, 21.13 percent increase from 2012

The Rocky Mountain state has ample access to renewable and traditional energy sources. According to the EIA, “Its diverse geography and geology give Colorado the headwaters of major rivers, winds that have created new wealth on the open plains, and substantial crude oil, natural gas and coal resources.”

According to the EIA, clean energy is considered a key industry in Colorado. Like Washington, its laws encourage development of green energy technology. “In 2004, Colorado became the first state with a voter-approved renewable portfolio standard (RPS),”they said. The RPS requires that 30 percent of electricity sold by investor-owned facilities come from renewable energy resources.

The state’s major wind resources are on the eastern plains and mountain crests.  Most of its green energy generation comes from wind turbines, followed by hydroelectric facilities.

8. Oregon – 7.456 million MWh, 17.55 percent increase from 2012

Oregon gets two-thirds of its net electricity from renewable resources. When it rains and snows a lot, the figure is four-fifths sincemost of it is hydroelectric. Its second-largest source of net electricity comes from wind power. There are wind farms in the Columbia Gorge and eastern Oregon hills which generate more than 3,000 MW of power.  The Beaver State has teamed with Washington, California and British Columbia to make the I-5 West Coast Green Highway, “a national model for sustainable transportation infrastructure,” the EIA said. The project will include public fast-charging locations every 25 to 50 miles for electric vehicles.

7. Minnesota – 8.262 million MWh, 8.50 percent increase from 2012

Minnesota has significant renewable resources. These include open prairies that provide an unobstructed wind energy resource.  The North Star State has many wind farms, especially in the southwestern region. In 2013, more than 15 percent of the state’s net electricity generation came from wind power. Like Colorado, Minnesota has adopted RPS for all electricity providers. The EIA states that, “All providers are required to obtain a share of their retail electricity sales from renewable resources.”

6. Kansas – 9.433 million MWh, 81.58 percent increase from 2012

Kansas has considerable energy resources and energy potential. Its strong winds give this prairie state significant wind energy resources. Nearly all of the renewable electricity generation in Kansas comes from the wind. Based on EIA research, “[Kansas’] legislature enacted [an RPS] in May 2009 that requires investor-owned and cooperative electric utilities to obtain 10 percent of their peak demand capacity from eligible renewable resources…”

5. Illinois – 9.625 million MWh, 24.56 percent increase from 2012

Illinois is in the center of our nation and is the most populated, most prosperous Midwestern state. The Prairie State has fossil fuel resources that include substantial amounts of coal and some crude oil. Renewable resources contribute only a small amount to Illinois’ net electricity generation. However, their contribution has increased dramatically over the past decade.

Wind generation is the number one renewable resource for electric power generation in Illinois. The state’s wind resource potential is ranked 15th in the nation.  The EIA reports that, “Illinois’ [RPS] requires that investor-owned electric utilities with more than 100,000 Illinois customers obtain 25 percent of retail sales from renewable resources by May of 2026, with at least 75 percent of the requirement from wind and 6 [percent] from solar photovoltaics (PV).”

4. Oklahoma – 11.162 million MWh, 36.82 percent increase from 2012

Oklahoma is rich in energy resources, with oil and natural gas wells spread across much of the state. However, fossil fuels are not the state’s only energy resources. The open plains in western Oklahoma have significant wind potential.

Wind energy is providing an increasing share of the state’s electricity generation. Oklahoma meets almost one-fifth of its electricity generation needs with renewable resources, mostly from wind energy.

3. California – 12.822 million MWh, 31.45 percent increase from 2012

With the largest economy in the nation, the Golden State runs on an abundance of energy. As the most populous state, its total energy demand is second only to Texas. With a substantial supply of crude oil and as a top producer of hydroelectric power, the state is rich in energy resources. California is among the top states in the nation, usually second after Washington, in net electricity generation from renewable resources. Its wind resources are found along the state’s eastern and southern mountain ranges. As part of its Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, the Golden State has established an emissions cap-and-trade program incentivizing investment in renewables.

2. Iowa – 15.568 million MWh, 10.95 percent increase from 2012

Iowa has few fossil fuel energy resources, but substantial renewable energy potential. Wind is the top renewable resource used in Iowa. Most of Iowa’s plentiful wind energy is captured in the northern and western parts of the state. The state’s Mandatory Utility Green Power Option requires all electric utilities in Iowa, including those not rate-regulated by the Iowa Utilities Board, to offer green power options to their customers.

1. Texas – 35.890 million MWh, 11.41 percent increase from 2012   

Texas leads the nation in both total energy production and consumption. The Lone Star State is rapidly developing its non-hydroelectric renewable energy resources, particularly wind. It became the country’s largest wind energy producer in 2006 when it passed California. One year later, Texas became the first state to install 1 gigawatt of wind capacity in a single year. More wind generation capacity is under construction.

Texas has three of the top five wind farms in the nation. The EIA stated, “In 2005, the state legislature changed the [Renewable Energy Mandate,] requiring that 5,880 megawatts, or about 5 percent of the state’s electricity demand, come from renewable generation by 2015, and 10,000 megawatts by 2025, including a goal of 500 megawatts of renewable-energy capacity from resources other than wind.”