11 Maps That Explain Energy In America

5) Wind power is surging in the Midwest and Great Plains

Here’s a map of the major wind farms in the contiguous United States:

EIA-wind-power1(Energy Information Administration)
Wind power plants.

Wind has been rising fast, albeit from a low base. In 2008, wind provided just 1 percent of the nation’s electricity. That’s gone up to 4.9 percent in the first half of 2015 as turbines have sprouted up around the country.

There are two big reasons for that rapid growth. The federal government has provided both tax credits and subsidies for wind. Many states also have laws requiring utilities to get a certain portion of their electricity from renewables. (One notable exception here is the Southeast, which is why you don’t see many wind farms there.)

Most analysts expect wind to keep rising in the future, especially in breezy places like the Midwest and Great Plains. True, Congress might eventually take away those federal tax credits. But on the other hand, the EPA’s forthcoming plan to limit CO2 emissions will give states incentives to boost renewable sources like wind. What’s more, the costs of wind have been falling in recent years. Lately, there’s even been interest in building wind offshore — the first such US project just got underway off the coast of Rhode Island.

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