When it comes to wind energy, not all states are created equal. They say everything's bigger in Texas -- and for wind energy and rib-eye steak, they're right. Here's how Texas tops the list of wind energy producers.
Where's the wind?
Wind energy is making major moves in the United States. In 2012, wind accounted for 3.5% of U.S. electricity generation -- in 2013, that amount jumped to 4.1%.
Improved technology by the likes of General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), a supportive tax structure, and increasingly expensive alternatives are all causing utilities to take a closer look at how wind might work for them. With more than 10,200 net megawatts of wind energy, NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) is the undisputed wind leader.
NextEra Energy's 100 farms offset more than 25.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2013 alone -- but its investments aren't for everyone. A quick look at its wind facility map clearly shows how NextEra Energy prefers some states over others.
And it's not just NextEra Energy that's a picky producer. New data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that a whopping 80% of 2013 wind energy came from just 12 states. While the Midwest and West Coast easily take the cake for wind power, it's Texas that grabs gold.
Defending its 2012 top spot, the Lonestar State produced a massive 36 million megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity in 2013. Iowa placed second, but its 15 million MWh didn't hold a candle to Texas' capacity.
NextEra Energy's own Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center churns out a collective 736 MW of wind energy, on par with the generation capacity of any coal-fired, natural gas, or nuclear power plant. To push out that much energy, the facility relies on a combination of massive General Electric Company and Siemens wind turbines.
General Electric Company is the largest supplier of wind turbines in the U.S., and its research efforts have paid off for Texas. Since 2011, turbine costs have dropped 12%, but NextEra Energy was in on the effort long before then. Its 291 1.5 MW General Electric Company turbines and 139 2.5 MW Siemens turbines have been turning on Texas lights since 2006.
While Texas is often stereotyped as anti-Federalist separatist state (just ask Texans about their constitutional right to secede), some of the state's biggest additions came in December 2012 on the back of a subsidy shutdown scare. The U.S. government's lucrative Production Tax Credit was set to expire in 2013, and capacity additions soared in the final months of 2012. Of the 12,620 MW of total 2012 wind capacity expansion, the Lonestar State powered up an incredible 1,120 MW in December alone -- more than any other state.
For the better part of the early 20th century, Texas made millions (and billions, and trillions) from gushing oil wells. Today, the state is tapping into the latest energy source around -- and it's proving to hold major profit potential. If the last 100 years is any evidence, Texas will continue to embrace any and all emerging energy sources -- and those wise enough to watch closely will see significant investing opportunities along the way.