Wind turbines can be found all over the country, dotting the landscape and swinging their massive blades through the air. By the end of 2012, the United States boasted a staggering 45,100 wind turbines, generating over 60,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity. This was also the first year where wind energy surpassed all other energy sources, providing about 42 percent of generated electricity. But which state provides the most wind energy in the country? That would be none other than the great state of Texas.
Not only does Texas boast the highest number of wind turbines and generated electricity, it has also generated thousands of American jobs and provided numerous economic and environmental benefits. Even though they are the national leader, that isn’t stopping Texas from planning to nearly triple its electricity generation. Texas is the first and currently only state to surpass the generation of 10,000 MW of electricity. The state generates 10,929 MW of electricity as of October of 2012, 535 of those megawatts were added last year alone. There are another 1,291 MW worth of facilities currently under construction and an estimated 22,239 MW planned for future construction. Texas generates enough electricity to power over 2.7 million homes.
Texas established a renewable portfolio standard in 1999 that was amended in 2005 requiring the state to generate 5,880 MW of renewable energy by 2015 and generating 10,000 MW by 2025. Having already surpassed that requirement in 2010, the National Renewable Energy Lab now estimates Texas’ wind resource could potentially provide 19 times the state’s current electricity needs. The state also holds four of the top five spots for the largest wind farms in the country.
In addition to all the generated electricity, the wind industry in Texas has supported 6,000 to 7,000 jobs in 2011. This includes operation, management, construction, and manufacturing for these gigantic turbines. There are at least 37 Texas facilities involved in the production of wind turbine components, with more facilities expected to open in the coming years. Wind power projects also produce lease payments for land owners and increase the tax base of communities. Collectively, land owners have received $31 million in annual lease payments, and the state’s tax base includes $115 million in annual property tax payments.
Generating electricity from wind turbines produces no emissions and uses virtually no water. Thanks to the thousands of online turbines in the state, nearly 19 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions have been offset. When it comes to wind energy, Texas is as green as it gets.
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