The Best States for Wind Power

Find out which states have the best natural wind resources, which offer homeowners the best financial incentives for installing wind turbines, and where the most new wind projects are being constructed.


| September 2, 2009



Texas wind turbines

Wind turbines on the horizon in west Texas. Texas is the U.S. leader in wind energy, with more than 8,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity.


ISTOCKPHOTO/PAIGE FOSTER

The United States has incredible wind power resources. Although wind energy currently provides only slightly more than 1 percent of U.S. electricity, that number is rising rapidly. A recent government report projects that we could get 20 percent of our electricity from wind by 2030. Most of that growth will be from utility-scale wind projects, although there’s great support for developing small wind power too, including home-scale wind turbines and small community-based projects.

So, which areas of the country have the best wind resources? Here’s a quick look at how different states compare in terms of which locations are naturally windy, and which are proving to be windy at heart by supporting programs and financial incentives to develop wind power.

Naturally Windy Places

In general, the windiest spots in the United States are off the coasts, in the mountains, and right down through the Great Plains, where a band of strong winds stretches from North Dakota to Texas. Take a look at this U.S. Department of Energy wind resources map for a quick glance at where the wind blows.

For another look at the windiest states, consider this report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which lists these 10 states (in order) as having the best wind energy resources.

  1. North Dakota
  2. Texas
  3. Kansas
  4. South Dakota
  5. Montana
  6. Nebraska
  7. Wyoming
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Minnesota
  10. Iowa

According to AWEA, this report does not account for offshore wind resources, and it is likely to change as new wind speed measurements become available. However, it does give you a quick look at where to find some of the country’s best wind resources. That’s good to know, because although small-scale wind turbines can be a good investment even in places with only marginal winds, large utility-scale wind projects do require a location with good natural wind resources.

For more background on how to know whether you have enough wind for a wind turbine, here’s additional information about wind resource maps and categories.

mc_2
9/9/2009 11:32:24 PM

Sounds to me like the energy is relatively clean... ...and, as usual, it's the way our "leaders" run things that is filthy. The more I read, the more I tend to suggest that decentralization is the only viable solution. Not that all individuals are good-- just that it's much, much harder to systemically corrupt a decentralized society.


dj_3
9/9/2009 10:08:30 AM

Clean energy? Have you seen the hillsides in Western New York? They are covered with wind turbines. Each turbine base is made of hundreds of tons of concrete, which means that there has been an astounding amount of greenhouse gasses and mercury released into the atmosphere. It has been estimated by the EPA that each ton of cement produced releases 1.5 POUNDS of mercury! Due to a state regulation, when the turbines produce electricity [only about 20 - 30 percent of the time] the power is sold to the utilities at the highest rate, which raises our electric bills. The grid shuts down some of the hydroelectric gates at Niagara Falls to accommodate the wind energy, which results in NO net gain of 'clean' electricity. Do some simple research and fact checking. High school math will prove to you that this is an expensive scam.


urban survival podcast_1
9/4/2009 6:07:58 AM

Interesting article.






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