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Top Wind Power States? Guess Again...

by Bob Morris, published


Most people would probably choose California as the state with the highest percentage of electricity generation from wind power. As it turns out, California isn’t even close as it gets about 4% of its power from wind.

The top honor goes South Dakota, with a whopping 22% of its power generation from wind. Iowa was next with 19%. North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wyoming followed, all with more than 10%. The top ten was rounded out by Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, Oregon, and Oklahoma with more than 5%.

This is a surprisingly bipartisan list of states. Their US senators are about equally split between Republican and Democrat. Red states are just as likely to have large amount of wind power as blue states. The key factor does not appear to be political ideology or a belief that climate change is happening, but rather, is the wind blowing hard in our state? If so, let’s use it to generate clean, renewable energy on our own soil. Perhaps this indicates a hidden bipartisan agreement on wind power and renewable energy that may be masked by our current political battles.

Of the ten states, only two have the possibility for offshore wind, Oregon and Minnesota (which borders Lake Superior). All the rest are inland. This highlights a gaping hole in US energy. The sad fact is the US still has no offshore wind power. Imagine how much more energy could be generated if we did? However, NIMBYs and endless permitting processes have hugely stalled the development of offshore wind in the United States.

In another surprise, the state with the greatest amount of installed wind capacity is not California with 4 gigawatts but Texas with 10 gigawatts. In fact, if Texas were a country, its installed wind power would rank sixth in the world. A gigawatt is roughly enough to power 700,000 homes.

Unfortunately the US Congress is letting the federal production tax credit expire at the end of 2012. This means there will be a burst of construction to complete projects be the end of the year followed by an almost certain severe drop in new wind power installations. Wind power is a proven technology now and it would be a shame to hamper its growth.

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