Wyoming wind energy on the rise, but distant No. 2 to coal

Source: By BENJAMIN STORROW Star-Tribune staff writer • Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wyoming is among the greenest states in the nation, at least in terms of renewable power production.

Wind energy accounted for 8 percent of the Cowboy State’s electricity generation in 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, making it the second-biggest source of power production in the state.

Coal was far and away the largest power producer in Wyoming, responsible for generating 89 percent of the state’s electrical production. No other sector accounted for more than 1 percent of Wyoming’s power.

The state’s wind sector has grown rapidly in the last five years, rising from 963 thousand megawatts in 2008 to 4,415 thousand megawatts last year. Wind’s share of the electricity supply has grown at a corresponding rate. In 2008, it supplied two percent of power produced in Wyoming. Coal, by contrast, generated 94 percent of the electricity produced in the Cowboy State that year.

Chris Namovicz, an EIA analyst, said the increase was a reflection of federal tax credits for the wind industry and high natural gas prices five years ago. Projects started began to come online only in recent years, he said.

Nationally, renewable power sources accounted for around 6 percent of the country’s electricity, the EIA said. Eleven states generated at least double that average. Maine led the way, with 32 percent of the power it produces coming from renewables, primarily in the form of biomass from wood.

South Dakota generated 25 percent of its electrical production from wind, while Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Colorado saw between 12 percent and 20 percent of their power generated by wind.