Enter Your ZIP To See How Much You Could Be Saving
Texas renewable electricity

Electricity – Catching the Wind

Harnessing the power of the wind is not a new concept. Windmills have played a role in improving our lives for the better part of two thousand years.  Windmills enabled our ancestors to mill grain and pump water for their livestock.  While wind energy is still widely used to pump water, it is becoming more commonly used to generate electricity.  Wind-powered turbines allow consumers to choose electricity plans backed by clean wind generation.

Wind Power Growth

The growth of wind generation in the United States over the past 15 years has been amazing. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), wind turbines generated 6,737 GWh of electricity in 2001.  In 2015, this number increased to 190,927 GWh.  That represents more than a 2700% increase in just 15 years.  Wind energy has become a significant part of the generation mix.  It has also reduced the amount of fossil fuel generation needed to meet our electricity needs.

Graph showing growth of U.S. wind generation

Wind Power Distribution

Wind-powered turbines are not evenly distributed across the country. In 2001, California was responsible for 52% of the nation’s wind electricity generation.  Texas, Minnesota, and Iowa combined for another 38% of our national wind power.  This means that 90% of wind generation that year was concentrated in just four states.

The rapid growth in wind generation has changed things up a bit. In 2015, Texas accounted for 24% of wind generation and was the leading wind power producer.  Although California increased its wind generation by 250% from 2001 to 2015, it now only accounts for 6% of the nation’s wind energy.  Wind generation has diversified to such a degree that it now takes seventeen states to account for 90% of the power produced.  Not only has the amount of wind generation skyrocketed, it now covers a broader geographic area.

2001 GWh2015 GWh
Texas1,18844,959
Iowa48817,878
Oklahoma014,018
California3,50012,228
Kansas4010,927
Illinois010,733
Minnesota8979,797
Colorado497,441
Washington07,101
Oregon896,675
North Dakota06,530
Michigan04,778
Indiana04,516
New York213,956
Wyoming3653,768
Pennsylvania113,352
Nebraska33,154
South Dakota12,481
Idaho02,457
New Mexico02,067
TOTAL6,652178,816

Also, it is interesting to note that the state of Washington, lacking any significant wind generation fifteen years ago, produced more electricity from wind in 2015 than the entire nation did in 2001.

Windless States?

Twelve states and the District of Columbia did not report producing any meaningful amount of electricity from wind generation in 2015. The states were:  Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Some of these states have significant hydropower generation. Wind power has not always been able to compete economically with hydropower.  Yet, not every state has favorable conditions for large-scale windfarms.  Each state is unique and it takes a special combination of regulatory, geographic, and power grid factors for wind generation to make sense.

Where is wind generation heading? Wind currently ranks behind hydropower as the second largest source of renewable energy.  The EIA projects wind will overtake hydropower in 2038 and dominate the renewable energy market. For consumers, this means greater access to renewable energy plans.  It should also translate into reduced premiums for green electricity over standard generation.

About: Charlie Hewitt

Charlie Hewitt has more than 25 years of in-depth energy experience having served in executive and managerial roles at some of the largest retail energy providers in North America. His expertise covers a wide range of retail energy disciplines including pricing, contracting, risk management, and credit. He holds an MBA from UT Arlington, MA and BS degrees in geology from UT Austin, and was a TXU environmental research fellow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2020 ElectricityMatch