More U.S. Wind Power than You Think

June 19, 2012

Driving down to Indianapolis this weekend, I was amazed at the large number of wind turbines along Route 65. It was relatively calm, so most of the 3-blade turbines' rotations were at a leisurely 2 seconds or so.

Curious, I visited Wikipedia and discovered that Indiana's first wind power installation was in 2008. Click on the map to see a bigger version to see the amount of wind generating energy capacity in every U.S. state by 2011. I was even more amazed to see that my home state of Illinois has more than double Indiana's capacity. Click on the words "animated map" below the graphic to see when each of the states began installing wind turbines, starting in 1999. You'll see that Illinois had a 5-year start over Indiana, which partially explains the difference.

The animated map is fascinating, because you can follow your own state's progress over the years. For example, California was an early leader in wind energy but was overtaken by Texas in 2006. Wikipedia also offers a list of major U.S. wind farms. You can sort by name, installed capacity, state and geographic coordinates. To the right is a bar graph of per capital wind generated electricity. Wyoming has the highest average monthly kilowatt-hours generated per person (696) and Illinois is second from the bottom, at 41.

As an aside, Hawaii is the last-listed state, with 20 kilowatt-hours generated per person. A number of years ago I attended a wedding on the Big Island and took a side trip to South Point, the southernmost  point in the U.S. (ask people you know what the southernmost point of the U.S. is, and it's likely they'll answer "Key West, Florida" but you'll know better). There we saw a silent stand of rusting wind turbines. The 37 turbines have been taken down recently, according to a March 29, 2012 article, to be sold for scrap metal.

I don't have the time right now, but some of you may want to dive into the data reported by the captioned global Energy Concepts database. It would be interesting to explore the relationship between the average monthly kilowatt-hours generated per person and the cost of electricity in different locales. We've got comments disabled to avoid spam posts; if you'd like to comment, please send an e-mail to Thanks!

Category: Now You Know
Topic: Energy/Fuel