What’s the best state for renewable energy?

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By Arthur Murray
For business
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The question of the best state for renewable energy, like that of the best for green energy, prompts a tricky debate. Is it the state that generates the most renewable energy – Texas? Or is the state that generates the highest percentage of its electricity from renewable sources – Vermont? Or the state that generates the most renewable electricity per capita – Wyoming?

The answer, of course, is to consider all three factors, which means the overall best state for renewable energy isn’t any of those listed. But before going further, it’s important to note what Choose Energy® analysts did – and didn’t – consider renewable energy among statistics provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

What was considered:

  • Solar – 1.2 percent of the nation’s electricity generation in November, the latest month for which information is available.
  • Wind – 7 percent.
  • Hydroelectric – 6.9 percent.
  • Geothermal – 0.4 percent.
  • Wood and wood derived fuels – 1 percent.
  • Other biomass – 0.5 percent.

What wasn’t considered:

  • Nuclear – 19.9 percent. Some consider this type of energy renewable, but the uranium used in nuclear power plants is not. The EIA, National Geographic, Stanford University and others consider nuclear nonrenewable.

So what’s really the best state for renewable energy?

Choose Energy analysts weighed all three factors mentioned above equally, assigning scores for each state’s performance in each category. When considering all three, Washington clearly was the best state for renewable energy. On the other side, Connecticut finished as the worst state for renewable energy. Following are the top 10 and bottom 10 states for renewable energy:

Why did Washington rate so highly? The state generated the second-largest amount of renewable energy, got the fifth-best percentage of its power from renewable sources, and was 11th in renewable energy per capita. Those high marks across the board powered its strong overall performance.

Meanwhile, Vermont – first in percentage of power from renewable sources – was 43rd in total renewable energy produced, leaving it 11th overall. Texas – first in amount of renewable energy produced – was 39th in renewable energy per capita and 17th overall. Wyoming – first in renewable energy per capita – was 20th overall after finishing in the middle of the pack in the other two categories.

Sources of renewable energy and the states lead in them

As stated above, Choose Energy analysts considered solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, wood and wood-derived fuels, and other biomass to be renewable. Following are the 10 best states for generation by that source and the percentage of the state’s electricity for it.

Solar

Wind

Hydroelectric

Geothermal - only seven states produce meaningful amounts

Wood and wood derived

Other biomass

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