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The States Where Renewable Energy Is Booming

The States Where Renewable Energy Is Booming
Flickr user Michael. C. Rael

Not including hydroelectric power, guess which state generates the highest proportion of its energy from renewable sources?

The answer: Maine. It gets 27% of its power from wind, biomass (notably wood), landfill gas, and other fuels, according to new figures from the Energy Information Administration. That’s up from 20% in 2001. Following a little further back are South Dakota (21%) and Iowa (17%), which have both made big strides in the last decade. Iowa generated less than 1% in 2001. About 20% of its power now comes from wind.

Wind is the main reason such states are increasing renewable capacity. There has been a six-fold increase in wind generation across the U.S. in the last five years, including a 27% jump last year. For the biggest wind states, click on the wind tab of this map, or look at this.

The state-by-state picture changes dramatically when you include hydro, with the Pacific Northwest dominating production.

The EIA notes that a big factor behind whether a state takes to renewables is whether its government introduces incentives for producers. More than half of states now have policies requiring or strongly encouraging producers to seek renewables (see map here).

Neither of the maps above includes solar or biomass production by end-users, such as households with solar panels on their roofs, or, say, breweries generating electricity from waste. In sunny states like California that might help shift the dial a notch or two.

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