Editor’s note: Today begins a two-part series on wind power. Part 1 examines the status of wind power today and where it has come during the past year.
Wind power generates about 8 percent of the nation’s electricity, but that amount should be rising. The U.S. added about 17.3 percent to its wind generation capacity in 2019, with 22,114 megawatts more under construction this year, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Which state is the leader? Texas, with nearly three times as much wind energy capacity as No. 2 Iowa.
Nine states, scattered throughout the South, have no wind generation capacity, though Arkansas and Virginia are adding it.
The best states for wind power
All figures from the American Wind Energy Association, unless otherwise noted.
The Lone Star State generates the most electricity of any state, and that goes for wind generation as well. It has 28,843 megawatts of installed capacity. That capacity comes from 14,874 turbines. The state has enough capacity to power nearly 7.3 million homes.
The state’s status as No. 1 likely won’t change soon. It added the most capacity in 2019 – nearly double that of No. 2 Iowa – and has the most under construction this year.
Iowa ranks second in installed capacity, with 10,190 megawatts of capacity from 5,410 turbines. Those can generate enough electricity to power nearly 2.1 million homes. The state added 2.878 megawatts of capacity during 2019 and has 1,175 megawatts under construction.
If there seems to be a pattern here, it’s only because there is. The pattern, of course, is that the top states for wind are found in Tornado Alley, that portion of the Midwest where powerful winds can cause devastation as well as generate power. (Spoiler alert: The fourth-ranked state for wind energy also is part of the region.)
Oklahoma has 8,172 megawatts of wind capacity, supplied by 4,103 turbines. That’s enough to power nearly 2.7 million homes.
Kansas gets more than 40 percent of its electricity from wind. Its wind capacity is 6,128 megawatts coming from 3,160 turbines. It can produce enough energy for more than 1.8 million homes.
The outlier among the top five is California. Its 6,613 turbines can generate nearly 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for 1.3 million homes.
The worst states for wind
Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia have no wind generation capacity. Other states with light wind power are New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware.
Following is a chart that shows the installed capacity (in megawatts) of wind power for every other state, the number of wind turbines, and the equivalent number of homes powered by wind.