South Dakota is 5th in the U.S. in wind energy potential, so expectations for the wind industry in the Mount Rushmore State are high.1
It only has 803 megawatts of wind energy capacity currently installed,2
which may not sound like a lot, given the significant potential of the state. But that means wind is responsible for over 26% of the state’s electricity generation portfolio.3
Wind power isn’t the only renewable source of energy that contributes significantly to the state’s electricity portfolio. In fact, hydropower is the state’s #1 source of electricity; 65% of the state’s electricity comes from wind and hydro.4
South Dakota is also the 5th largest producer of ethanol in the country.5
The growth of the state’s renewable energy industry has been slightly tempered by the minimal amount of pro-renewable state policies.5
But still, the future of South Dakota’s clean energy economy is bright.
Learn more about energy in South Dakota with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Tennessee was an early adopter of renewable energy and is the home of the first major windfarm in the Southeastern U.S.1
Tennessee also has an extensive hydropower industry, and it now gets over 10% of its electricity from renewable sources, one of the highest proportions in the southeastern U.S.2
Unfortunately, the state is also one of the (very) few states without a renewable portfolio standard or net-metering policy, and that has stunted the growth of Tennessee’s clean energy growth.3
Still, the state’s preeminent utility, the Tennessee Valley Authority, has made acquiring more renewable energy a priority.4
And the Tennessee Regulatory Authority just approved a transmission project that will deliver wind energy from Oklahoma across the southeast and inject $2 billion of investment into Tennessee.5
Learn more about energy in Tennessee with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Texas is an energy-centric state any way you slice it. The state both produces and consumes the most energy in the United States, has its own completely independent grid, and leads the country in both natural gas production and crude oil production.1
However, the Lone Star State also leads the U.S. in wind energy generation by a significant margin, and its wind industry is an international powerhouse.
Texas has over 12,000 megawatts of wind power capacity currently installed, and it is expected to add 7,000 megawatts by the end of this year.2
To put that in perspective, Texas is already the 6th largest country
for wind energy capacity in the world.3
And all of that wind energy brings real economic benefits to the state: wind power support nearly 9,000 jobs in Texas.4
Texas’ other renewable power sectors have been slower to take off, despite significant potential in geothermal, solar, biomass, and offshore wind.5
And since the state has already met its renewable portfolio standard, these clean energy sectors may remain largely under-utilized moving forward.6
Learn more about energy in Texas with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
With significant solar and geothermal potential, a net-metering policy in place, favorable tax incentives and programs in effect, and swaths of open land, Utah is in position to create jobs, diversify its energy portfolio, and reduce its reliance on electricity sources from out-of-state with clean energy.
The Beehive State's entirely voluntary renewable portfolio standard has constrained growth in the past, but things are starting to pick up. In 2014, renewable projects in the state attracted $264.3 million in asset finance.1
Utah has 615 megawatts of utility-scale solar currently being developed--an amount that would increase Utah’s solar capacity by a whopping 3,416%.2
Those projects will begin to come online by next year. The state also has 13 geothermal projects under development,3
and was recently ranked by NREL as having the 25th highest wind energy potential in the U.S.4
Learn more about energy in Utah with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Vermont has a thriving and diverse renewable energy industry – 30% of its electricity comes from renewables, and the state boasts the lowest carbon emissions from the electricity generation sector in the country.1
A majority of the state’s renewable energy comes from hydropower, but it also has significant biomass capacity.2
On top of that, the solar industry supports 1,000 jobs in the state,3
and Vermont can use wind energy to meet 1/4th of its electricity needs without a large commitment of land.4
Burlington – the largest city in Vermont – has already shifted entirely to renewable power.5
The state also has a vibrant efficiency sector. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Vermont third in the country for pro-efficiency policies.6
And there is a goal in place that expects 20% of the electricity added to the grid after 2004 by Vermont utilities to come from renewable sources.7
Learn more about energy in Vermont with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Virginia has a renewable portfolio standard as well as an energy efficiency standard, but both are voluntary, and the state’s renewable energy industry has stalled out as a result.1
Virginia only got 5.5% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2013.2
Still, the Commonwealth has ample renewable resources to take advantage of. In order to boost the state’s solar industry and begin to take advantage of the sort of benefits currently being enjoyed by neighbor North Carolina, Governor McAuliffe has argued for the creation of the Virginia Solar Development Authority.3
And an offshore wind industry in Virginia would create 5,161 more jobs than a prospective offshore drilling industry.4
According to NREL, the state has offshore wind resources totaling 89 gigawatts of capacity.5
Virginia does have a successful agricultural industry, and over half of the state’s renewable energy comes from biomass facilities. In fact, older coal plants nearing retirement offer the opportunity to continue generating electricity by converting to biomass. Dominion Power has already converted three of its Virginia coal plants to biomass.6
Learn more about energy in Virginia with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
There’s no doubt that Washington is a clean energy powerhouse: the state leads the U.S. in renewable energy generation, and more than 75% of its electricity comes from renewables.1
In fact, it generates nearly 1/3rd of the nation’s hydropower,2
and it is also among the nation’s leader in wind energy.3
All of that renewable energy is a large part of the reason the state has the cheapest electricity prices in country.4
And there’s still plenty of renewable resources left to develop. According to the Department of Energy, Washington has over 7 GW of untapped hydropower,5
not to mention its abundant wave, ocean, and geothermal resources. The state’s solar industry supports 2,400 jobs in-state,6
and it has significant offshore wind potential.7
Learn more about energy in Washington with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Coal reigns in West Virginia, one of only three states that are net-exporters of coal.1
Coal accounts for 95% of West Virginia’s electricity portfolio, and a majority of that electricity is sent out-of-state.2
West Virgnia did have some semblance of a renewable portfolio standard: it required 25% of West Virginia’s electricity to come from renewable and alternative sources by 2025. But the “alternative” part of the equation allowed WV utilities to meet the standard with non-renewable, non-clean sources of electricity like natural gas and certain coal technologies.3
Apparently, even that modest standard was too harsh: West Virginia repealed its alternative energy standard earlier this year.4
The decision to double-down on coal is perplexing: a recent leak of chemicals used to purify coal left 300,000 West Virginians without fresh water.5
And without a backup plan, the declining demand for coal will continue to limit economic opportunity for state residents.6
Learn more about energy in West Virginia with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Wisconsin is a top 10 producer of ethanol,1
has plenty of renewable resources to take advantage of, and features a slew of policies meant to encourage clean energy generation. Transitioning to renewables is crucial for a state that sends $840 million out-of-state every year in order to import coal.2
Wisconsin has all the pieces in place to rapidly ramp up its wind deployment. Although wind energy only makes up 2.4% of the state’s electricity portfolio, the state has enough wind resources to meet 400% of its current energy needs. Plus, Wisconsin has 26 manufacturing facilities that create wind turbine components, the second-most in the country.3
The home of the Green Bay Packers has plenty of pro-renewable policies, including a renewable portfolio standard mandates that the state get 10% of its electricity from renewables by the end of this year. That’s not much, but it also mandates that each utility keep its portion of renewables from falling below 2015 levels.4
The state also features some tax incentives for renewables and requires that state utilities spend a certain amount of revenue on renewable energy and energy efficiency each year.5
Learn more about energy in Wisconsin with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Wyoming has substantial fossil fuel resources – it produces the most coal in the nation, and it is also a leader in natural gas and crude oil production.1
Even so, the state has the 8th highest potential for wind energy,2
and its wind industry has shown signs of growth.
The largest proposed wind farm in North America (3 GW) is nearing construction, and the project is economically viable regardless of the status of the federal production tax credit.3
And a recently revealed plan for an $8 billion wind project that would generate wind power in Wyoming, store it in Utah, and deliver it to California has been called the “Hoover Dam” of wind energy.4
However, the state is the only one in the nation that has an exclusive tax on wind power generation, and this policy has stifled investment in the state.5
As long as the wind tax remains, Wyoming’s ability to take advantage of its wind potential is in doubt.
Learn more about energy in Wyoming with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Alaska has some of the highest electricity and gasoline prices in the nation,1
largely due to its remote location and excessive reliance on crude oil for electricity generation – in 2014, 13% of the state’s electricity came from petroleum fuels. Currently, Alaska has not established an RPS policy.
However, the state also has significant renewable energy resources: 25% of Alaska’s electricity comes from hydropower.2
Plus, many towns rely on biomass plants to supplement their diesel fuel generators,3
and Alaska’s plethora of small-scale microgrids offer an obvious opportunity for increased distributed renewable energy deployment.
Learn more about energy in Alaska with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Thanks to its vast expanse of open land and intense sunlight,1
Arizona’s solar potential is among the highest in the U.S. In fact, Arizona added the second most solar power in the U.S. in 2013,2
and the state’s solar industry supports over 9,200 direct jobs.3
Fittingly, the state is home to both the largest photovoltaic solar plant in the world, as well as Solana, a concentrated solar panel plant that powers 70,000 homes and uses molten salt storage technology to continue to generate power even after the sun goes down.4
In total, different solar and wind projects in the state attracted $413.6 million in private-sector investment during 2014.5
Arizona has also been a hot-spot in the battle over net-metering policies. In 2013, a heated debate pitted former Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr.’s “Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed” against Arizona utilities seeking a $50-$100 monthly charge for rooftop solar owners.6
Arizona regulatory officials rejected that, but did agree to an average $5.00 monthly charge for rooftop solar owners, making it the first state in the U.S. to place a charge on rooftop solar owners. The growth of solar in the state has slowed as a result.7
Learn more about energy in Arizona with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Despite its reputation as “The Natural State,” Arkansas has no utility-scale solar or wind energy projects currently in operation. In fact, it relies on coal imports to generate about half of its electricity, which means the state sends over $600 million out-of-state every year.1
Virtually all of its non-hydro renewable energy generation, equal to 2% of its electricity capacity, comes from biomass plants.2
A net-metering policy and related interconnection standard have helped the state’s distributed solar industry gain a (very) small foothold. And tax credits for the manufacture of wind turbine components have attracted 11 companies to the state.3
Plus, an energy efficiency resource standard, combined with state loans that allow businesses to use electricity savings as repayment, earned Arkansas recognition as one of the most improved for the energy efficiency industry in 2014.4
Learn more about energy in Arkansas with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
A renewable portfolio standard that calls for state utilities to derive 30% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, coupled with a strong net-metering policy, has helped Colorado’s renewable energy industry take off in recent years. The state currently gets 14% of its electricity from non-hydro renewables, and 3% more from hydropower.1
And the state is undoubtedly a clean tech hotspot. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 20 minutes outside of Denver, had an economic impact of $814 million on Colorado’s economy in 2012 and has played an outsized role in the plummeting cost of renewables.2
Vestas alone employs over 2,000 Coloradoans at its 4 wind turbine manufacturing plants in-state.3
Plus, despite the colder-than-average climate, Colorado is 8th in the U.S. in solar energy generation.4
Learn more about Colorado and energy with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Connecticut currently gets less than 5% of its electricity from renewable sources, but it’s not for lack of trying.1
The state features an array of innovative clean energy programs and pro-renewable policies. And although there is no “low-hanging fruit” for the state’s renewable energy industry,2
Connecticut is still poised to foster a booming clean energy economy in the years to come.
Connecticut was one of the pioneers of the “Solarize” program, in which residents can reduce the cost of rooftop solar installations if enough of their neighbors also agree to install solar on their homes. The program has already reached nearly 60 communities.3
Connecticut is also home to the first Green Bank in the nation, and it has established PACE financing for energy efficiency and distributed renewables.4
On top of all that, Connecticut has a renewable portfolio standard that expects the state to get 20% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.5
Despite the current lack of utility-scale renewable projects, Connecticut does have a thriving energy efficiency industry. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranked the state 6th in the nation for pro-efficiency policies,6
and its energy efficiency programs have reduced retail sales of electricity by 1% in each of the last two years.7
Learn more about energy in Connecticut with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States.
Almost all of Delaware’s electricity comes from coal and natural gas – neither of which is produced in the state.1
On top of that, less than one-half of electricity sold in Delaware is generated in-state.2
The small state’s dependence on out-of-state energy is one of the reasons it enacted a renewable portfolio standard that mandates 25% of the state’s electricity come from renewables by 2025.3
Delaware only has one wind project currently online, a 2 megawatt installation at the University of Delaware.4
Delaware has significantly more offshore wind potential than onshore wind potential,5
but an offshore wind energy project has been in limbo off the coast of Delaware for several years now.6
The state does generate energy from landfill gas,7
and pro-solar policies – like a 3.5% carve-out in the state’s RPS – has Delaware’s solar industry set to expand.8
Learn more about energy in Delaware with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Florida is home to a significant amount of both retired New Yorkers and solar energy potential. Unfortunately, the state has a long history of minimal support for clean energy. And some legislation, like rules outlawing power purchase agreements (PPAs), actively discourage the state’s renewable energy industry.1
Only 2% of Florida’s electricity came from renewable sources last year.2
Still, the potential for a thriving renewable energy industry remains. Florida isn’t nicknamed “The Sunshine State” for nothing: it has the third highest solar potential in the U.S.3
Despite the negative policy environment, solar energy already supports 4,000 jobs in-state,4
and Florida ranks 7th in the U.S. for utility-scale solar. The state also has significant bioenergy capacity, including an advanced ethanol plant that pumps out 8 million gallons annually in Vero Beach.5
At the end of 2014, the state Public Service Commission agreed to gut Florida’s energy efficiency standards and end solar rebates.6
So it seems clear that Florida’s clean energy industry will continue to face challenges from legislators and regulators moving forward. That’s a shame: with 32 power plants over 35 years old,7
and household electricity expenditures 40% higher than the U.S. average,8
there is ample opportunity for renewables to improve Florida’s energy infrastructure.
Florida ratepayers are taking matters into their own hands. A bipartisan group of pro-solar activists, led by conservatives inspired by neighbor-state Georgia’s “Green Tea Coalition” is poised to allow voters to decide whether to allow non-utility entities, like homeowners, sell power to the grid.9
Learn more about energy in Florida with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Georgia may not have a renewable portfolio standard, but there are still promising signs for the state’s renewable energy industry. Georgia’s Public Service Commission mandated that Georgia Power have at least 525 megawatts of solar energy capacity by the end of 2015.1
And for its part, Georgia Power expects to have over 800 megawatts of solar power connected to the grid by 2016. This, combined with a net-metering policy, helped make the state the fastest growing solar market in 2013, although growth has since slowed.2
Likewise, Georgia ranked 3rd in the nation in net electricity generation from biomass in 2013.3
And the state is actually a leader in electric vehicle policy.4
The state provides a significant tax credit for purchasers of EVs and allows electric cars access to high-occupancy carpool lanes during rush hour. Policies like this have made Atlanta the fastest-growing metropolitan market in the country for EV sales.5
Georgia still only gets about 6% of its electricity from renewable sources,6
but the future is unquestionably bright.
Learn more about energy in Georgia with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Given its remote location, the lack of domestic fossil fuel resources, and the task of transmitting energy across 5 islands, electrifying Hawaii provides a unique challenge. The archipelago currently generates nearly 3/4ths of its electricity from imported petroleum fuels,1
and as a result, its electricity prices are by far the highest in the U.S. – nearly double that of the second highest, Connecticut.2
Renewable energy is an obvious solution for Hawaii’s energy problems, and the state has made clean energy deployment a priority. In fact, Hawaii's current renewable portfolio standard is 100% by 2045--the only state in the nation to mandate all its electricity come from renewables.3
Given the Aloha State’s sunny climate, solar energy – and its potential as a decentralized source of electricity – is particularly attractive. Unsurprisingly, Hawaii’s solar industry is one of the fastest growing in the U.S.4
Learn more about energy in Hawaii with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States.
Thanks to its extensive renewable energy resources, Idaho generates most of its electricity from renewables – 70%, to be exact.1
Hydropower, in particular, is a significant contributor to the state’s energy portfolio, producing close to half of Idaho’s electricity.2
However, the state has much more to offer than hydropower. Idaho’s geothermal energy generation is 6th in the U.S.,3
and its wind energy industry grew by a whopping 35% in 2013.4
Yet, the state has no renewable portfolio standard, no statewide net-metering policy, and moreover, Idaho's public utility commission recently reduced PURPA contracts for renewable energy from 20 years to 2 years.5
Consequently, Idaho’s clean energy industry is somewhat stalled. Without more adaptive, innovative energy policy, Idaho's energy economy may not exhibit sustained growth moving forward.
Learn more about energy in Idaho with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
At first look, Illinois wouldn’t appear to hold a lot of promise for clean energy. The state is first in the country in nuclear energy generation and is a leader in coal mining and crude oil refineries.1
But in fact, Illinois is home to a diverse, thriving renewable energy industry.
Illinois is 2nd in the Midwest in installed renewable energy capacity, trailing only wind behemoth Iowa.2
It is a top 5 state for installed wind energy and a top 3 state for both ethanol and biodiesel production. Illinois also has several programs designed to promote electricity efficiency within the state.3
These programs routinely reduce retail sales of electricity by 1%.4
A big reason for the success of renewables in Illinois is the state’s renewable portfolio standard, one of the most advanced in the U.S. It mandates that Illinois gets 25% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and includes a 6% carve-out for solar energy from 2015 on.5
The state’s policy support for renewables has clearly paid off: clean energy supports nearly 100,000 jobs in Illinois.6
Learn more about energy in Illinois with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Like most states in the Midwest, Indiana has bountiful wind resources. The Hoosier State is 13th in the U.S. in installed wind energy capacity, and it is home to 21 industrial plants that manufacture components for wind turbines.1
There are several pro-renewable policies currently in place in Indiana. Renewable energy systems are exempt from property taxes. Certain wind turbine components are exempt from Indiana’s sales tax, and the state has several tax incentives meant to encourage biofuels production.2
That support has paid off: the state is one of the nation’s leading producers of biofuels, pumping out over 1.2 billion gallons per year.3
However, all is not well on the policy front. Indiana also has a renewable portfolio standard, but it is a voluntary standard and partly encompasses non-renewable technologies like nuclear and “clean coal.”4
And the state recently repealed “Energizing Indiana,”5
its energy efficiency program that supported nearly 1,500 jobs and saved state ratepayers $80 million.6
The future of the efficiency industry in Indiana is now unclear.
Learn more about energy in Indiana with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Iowa has a lot of wind and a lot of corn. That’s all the sparsely populated state needs to be a clean energy behemoth.
Iowa doesn’t produce the most wind in the U.S. – it’s third in that regard. But it does lead the U.S. in the portion of its electricity that comes from wind energy. The Hawkeye State gets a whopping 27.4% of its electricity from wind energy alone.1
It’s no secret why. Iowa has plenty of undeveloped land and wind, and the state used pro-wind policies – like a statewide tax credit for every megawatt generated by wind2
– to turn its significant wind resources into a thriving industry.
It’s not just wind power that’s thriving in Iowa. The state produces 28% of the nation’s ethanol,3
and is home to the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in the country.4
In fact, the renewable fuels industry supports 73,371 jobs in-state and was responsible for nearly $20 billion of economic activity, according to Fuels America.5
Learn more about energy in Iowa with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Wind energy potential in Kansas is second in the U.S., trailing only Texas.1
So it should come as no surprise that the wind industry in Kansas is a crucial part of its energy economy. 19.5% of the state’s electricity comes from wind power, and the industry has created over 10,000 jobs in the state.2
Kansas is also one of the 10 sunniest states in the U.S., but its solar industry has yet to get off the ground. More successful is its renewable fuels industry. Kansas is home to one of only three plants in the country that use crop waste to produce ethanol at a commercial scale.3
And the biofuels industry supports 16,620 jobs in-state, according to Fuels America.4
Kansas’ renewable portfolio standard mandates that 20% of the state’s peak electricity demand be met by renewables by 2020.5
Fossil fuel groups have targeted that RPS, but so far those efforts have failed.6
Learn more about energy in Kansas with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
It should come as no surprise that Kentucky has almost no renewable energy infrastructure to speak of. The state alone is responsible for nearly 9% of U.S. coal production,1
and is the third largest exporter of coal in the U.S.2
The state’s second largest source of energy is hydropower. And it does feature several tax credits for renewables, as well a net-metering policy. But utilities have the ability to cap net-metering intake at 1% of their total generation.3
The fact is, in Kentucky, coal is king: 92% of its electricity comes from coal.
The state’s politics are singularly focused on protecting the coal industry.4
This is a problem; coal plants across the country face shutdowns in the coming years thanks to the plummeting costs of renewable energy, new regulations protecting the environment, and abundant natural gas. Kentucky has 28,588 megawatts of potential wind capacity,5
so it can transition to a clean energy economy and ensure future generations of Kentuckians can find work in the state. But without a renewable portfolio standard, it’s hard to see how.
Learn more about energy in Kentucky with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Louisiana is a fossil fuel powerhouse, with a litany of oil refineries, pipelines, and offshore drilling platforms off its coast in the Gulf of Mexico.1
But all of that industrial infrastructure also makes Louisiana a major consumer of energy, which has spurred the state to start supporting renewables. And recent environmental disasters, like the BP oil spill and the loss of thousands of miles of Louisiana’s coast to rising sea levels,2
have also made the state keenly aware of the perils of carbon-intensive energy.
Louisiana added 10 megawatts of solar energy in the first half of 2014 on the strength of a supportive net-metering policy and pro-solar tax credits.3
This rapid growth has made Louisiana one of the hottest solar markets in the U.S. The state also boasts a strong bioenergy industry with some of the highest biomass potential in the U.S.4
That potential is paying off: NFR BioEnergy recently announced a $312 million investment in 10 new biorefineries across the state.5
The refineries will support 450 direct jobs at annual salaries averaging $54,000.
Learn more about energy in Louisiana with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Maine has a lot of renewable energy potential, particularly in wind energy, hydropower, and biomass. And the state is already taking advantage of that potential: over half of Maine’s electricity comes from renewables, and it boasts the lowest electricity prices in the northeastern U.S.1
Maine is home to the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine in the country – which is also the first floating wind turbine in the country.2
The project is one example of what could be a thriving industry, although maneuvering by Governor Paul LePage has throttled the state’s offshore wind industry and sent investment out-of-state.3
However, Maine’s onshore wind industry has continued to grow, and is now poised to create 4,200 jobs this year.4
Maine’s biomass industry accounts for over 20% of the state’s electricity, which is by far the largest share from biomass in the country.5
That’s part of the reason the state has already met its renewable portfolio standard, which mandated the state get 40% of its electricity from renewables by 2017.6
Learn more about energy in Maine with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard mandates that the state get 20% of its electricity from renewables by 2022, and includes carve-outs for solar and offshore wind.1
Renewables currently account for 7% of electricity in the state.2
Western Maryland has significant wind energy potential, as does the state’s coast. In fact, the development of Maryland’s offshore wind industry would create 7,000 jobs in-state, 4,000 more than offshore drilling would.3
Maryland participates in the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a regional cap-and-trade program that has used its proceeds to invest nearly $200 million in Maryland's clean energy industry so far.4
Learn more about energy in Maryland with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Clean energy only makes up 9.3% of Massachusetts’ electricity portfolio,1
but the industry is set to grow significantly thanks to a litany of pro-renewable policies. The Bay State is home to one of the most innovative renewable portfolio standards in the U.S.; it mandates that Massachusetts utilities increase the portion of the electricity they generate from renewables by 1% every year.2
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranked Massachusetts as the best state in the country for policies that encourage energy efficiency for two straight years,3
and the state has deployment goals for both solar and wind.4
Massachusetts is not a particularly sunny state, and it does not have exceptional solar power potential.5
But pro-solar policies have made the state 6th in the U.S. for installed solar capacity, and the industry supported 9,400 jobs in-state in 2014.6
Massachusetts has also been on the precipice of featuring the first utility-scale offshore wind installation in the country. But the Cape Wind project, which was expected to support up to 1,000 jobs,7
is now in limbo after two utilities withdrew their support.8
Its future is uncertain.
Learn more about energy in Massachusetts with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Michigan has a wealth of renewable energy resources, and the potential of Michigan’s clean energy industry is high – though as of yet, unmet.
Michigan does have a renewable portfolio standard, but it’s one of the weakest in the U.S.1
It mandates that all utilities in-state get 10% of their electricity from renewable sources by the end of this year. That’s an underwhelming goal: research suggests that the state can get 32.5% of its electricity from renewables by 2030 with negligible cost increases.2
Research from the Michigan Public Service Commission also shows a higher portfolio standard is demonstrably achievable.3
Taking advantage of its extensive renewable energy resources would also keep money in-state; the Wolverine State currently sends over $1 billion out-of-state every year for coal.4
And there are plenty of resources to take advantage of. Michigan has over 19 million acres of forestry for biomass.5
Plus, its wind industry has started to soar: last year, it passed biomass as Michigan's largest source of renewable electricity,6
and from 2007 to 2011, the state’s wind capacity increased 1000-fold.7
Seizing on this success, Republican Governor Rick Snyder recently unveiled an ambitious plan for Michigan to get 40% of its electricity from renewables by 2030.8
Learn more about energy in Michigan with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Like several states in the Midwest, Minnesota is a veritable wind energy leader. 98 wind farms – most of them centered in the southwestern corner of the state – provide 15% of Minnesota’s electricity and have made the state 7th in the country for installed wind capacity.1
Minnesota is also a leader in renewable fuels. The state produces the 4th-most biofuels in the country,2
and the state’s economy has prospered as a result: renewable fuels are responsible for $11 billion of economic activity and support nearly 50,000 jobs in-state according to Fuels America.3
But it’s not just wind and biofuels taking off in Minnesota. Despite bordering Canada, Minnesota’s solar industry is growing at a rapid pace.4
All of this couldn’t have happened without policy support at the state level. Minnesota boasts an instructive renewable portfolio standard (with a solar carve-out of 1.5%)5
as well as sales tax exemptions and production tax credits for renewables. It even has it’s own renewable fuel standard for biodiesel.6
Pro-renewable policies like these – and many more – are part of the reason Minnesota can boast a thriving, diverse clean energy industry.
Learn more about energy in Minnesota with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Mississippi is one of only three states without a renewable portfolio standard, net metering policy, or interconnection standards.1
As such, it is annually among the states that generate the least amount of renewable energy.
This is not for lack of potential. In fact, if hydropower generation capabilities were added to existing locks and dams in Mississippi, they would generate up to 271 megawatts of renewable energy.2
And according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the state ranks 11th in the U.S. in biopower potential and has the ability to develop a small offshore wind industry.3
But with such a lack of pro-renewable policies, it’s hard to see how the state will attract the investment necessary to build those industries.
Learn more about energy in Mississippi with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Missouri has above average potential in many renewable technologies, including wind, solar, biomass, hydropower, and geothermal.1
Despite that, only 3% of Missouri’s electricity comes from renewables, and the state has yet to develop all of its hydropower resources.2
The state also sends $1.4 billion per year to import coal from out-of-state.3
That’s the fourth-most in the country.
With that being said, the clean energy industry has slowly begun to ramp up. There are 800 megawatts of wind energy currently under development in the state.4
That would increase Missouri’s installed wind capacity by 261%.5
And the state does have a renewable portfolio standard in place. Missouri’s renewable portfolio standard mandates that utilities get 15% of their electricity from renewables by 2021; it includes a 2% solar carve-out.6
Learn more about energy in Missouri with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
With plentiful open space and a significant amount of waterways, Montana has ample renewable energy potential. The state derived 37% of its electricity from hydropower in 2013,1
and Northwestern Energy, Montana’s largest utility, recently bought all 11 of Montana’s hydropower dams from their Pennsylvania owners.2
The deal will help Northwestern get more than half of its energy from wind and hydro.
Speaking of wind energy, Montana’s wind resources rank third in the U.S.3
But even with 20 MW of new wind capacity added in 2014, Montana ranks just 15th in the U.S. in installed wind capacity.4
Still, there are positive signs that the state’s wind energy industry is trending upward – Montana increased wind energy generation by 32% in 2013 alone.5
Learn more about energy in Montana with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Nebraska has the potential to be a renewable energy powerhouse –
and in some sense, it already is. After all, the state is 2nd in the country for biofuels production capacity.1
The renewable fuels industry has provided a big boost to Nebraska’s rural economy according to the biofuels group Fuels America, supporting nearly 40,000 jobs and spurring economic activity upwards of $11 billion.2
Nebraska did have several tax incentives in place for advanced biofuels, but those incentives have since expired.3
Nebraska is also 4th in wind power potential.4
In fact, almost 92% of the state is suitable for wind energy generation.5
But the state has lagged in taking advantage of its abundant wind resources. Nebraska has less than 900 megawatts of wind energy capacity; that makes the state just 18th in the country for installed wind capacity.6
State politicians are working on boosting its renewable sector. Nebraska does not have a renewable portfolio standard, but a bill to provide a production tax credit for wind installations is currently working its way through the legislature.7
Learn more about energy in Nebraska with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Nevada is one of the most exciting states in the U.S. when it comes to clean energy development and deployment. Strong policies – a robust 25% by 2025 Renewable Portfolio Standard (5% of which is solar), a strong net-metering policy, and tax incentives for renewable energy projects1
have helped Nevada develop a thriving and diverse renewable energy industry.
Nevada is among the U.S. leaders in geothermal potential, and so far, the state has delivered: it’s second in the U.S. in geothermal capacity, leading the third state, Utah, by nearly 500 megawatts.2
It is also home to cutting edge waste-to-energy aviation biofuels plant outside Reno,3
and it is 5th in the U.S. in installed solar energy capacity. In 2014, alone, Nevada installed 339 MW of solar energy.4
According to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission, all of the distributed solar in Nevada brings benefits in excess of $36 million to the state’s grid.5
Nevada’s investment in renewables paid off when Tesla chose the state as the site for its famed “gigafactory.” The automobile manufacturer’s battery plant is expected to employ 6,500 people and generate $100 billion of economic activity for the state.6
Tesla chose Nevada in part because of the state’s commitment to clean energy.
Learn more about energy in Nevada with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
In 2013, 16% of New Hampshire’s electricity came from renewable sources.1
Most of the state’s current renewable energy capacity comes from a mixture of hydropower and biomass, although the state does feature some wind power as well.2
New Hampshire’s reliance on renewables fits in with its goal of getting 24.8% of its electricity from renewables by 2025 – over half of which has to have been added after 2006.3
Despite the state’s commitment to clean energy, renewables have been the subject of fierce debate lately. Some residents have pushed for a ban on wind energy installations, although the legislature rejected a wind power moratorium last year.4
There is also a debate over whether to allow hydropower generated in Canada to qualify for the state’s renewable portfolio standard.5
Learn more about energy in New Hampshire with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
New Jersey is the leading example for how pro-renewable policies can foster a thriving industry in states without exceptional clean energy potential. The fourth smallest state in the U.S. has only average solar potential, but that hasn’t stopped it from adding the third-most solar energy capacity in the U.S.1
Backed by a supportive net-metering policy, a renewable portfolio standard with a solar carve-out, solar renewable energy credits, and sales tax exemptions for solar energy equipment,2
the solar industry supported 7,200 jobs and 509 solar companies in New Jersey last year.3
New Jersey has also long been considered a leader in offshore wind policy, although recent developments have cast doubt on the future of offshore wind in the state. In 2010, Governor Chris Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, legislation that provided financial support and tax incentives for offshore wind projects.4
The bill also mandated that New Jersey connect 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind power to the grid by 2021.5
A pilot installation off the coast of Atlantic City was set to create 500 jobs in South Jersey and establish New Jersey as the nation’s hub for offshore wind energy.6
But the Board of Public Utilities has consistently blocked the project from moving forward, and its future is unclear.7
Learn more about energy in New Jersey with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States.
With its high temperatures and vast expanses of arid land, it’s no surprise that New Mexico is a solar energy leader. The state has enough solar energy installed to power 74,000 homes, and the solar industry in New Mexico employs 1,600 residents.1
New Mexico’s thriving solar industry is largely a result of early support for the technology.
New Mexico has also been a significant adopter of wind energy, with over 750 MW of wind energy capacity already deployed2
and several hundred megawatts more under construction. New Mexico’s burgeoning clean energy industry is thanks in part to its wide portfolio of clean energy tax credits, including for both project development and manufacturing.3
Those tax incentives helped attract $585 million in clean energy investment in 2013.4
Also contributing to New Mexico's clean energy industry: it's strong renewable portfolio standard of 20% by 2020.5
Learn more about energy in New Mexico with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
New York has a diverse and thriving renewable energy industry. 23% of New York’s electricity came from renewables in 2013, and the state produces more hydropower than any state east of the Rocky Mountains.1
New York is also a top 10 state in installed capacity for both solar power and biopower,2
and the state has enough wind power installed to power 327,000 homes.3
New York’s booming renewable energy sector is thanks in large part to an array of supportive policies and innovative programs. The American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy ranked New York 7th in the U.S. for pro-efficiency policies,4
and the state’s clean energy authority has saved New York ratepayers $6.8 billion through energy efficiency financing.5
In 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo created a Green Bank that would leverage $1 billion in financing to spur private investment in the state’s clean energy sector.6
New York’s renewable portfolio standard mandates that the state get 29% of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of this year.7
Learn more about energy in New York with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
North Carolina is a solar energy leader in the U.S. -- and a preview of what southeastern states can accomplish with strong policy support for renewables. The state is fourth in the country in installed solar capacity, and it added the 2nd-most solar last year.1
North Carolina is now on track to get 20% of its electricity from solar power by 2030,2
and solar currently supports 5,600 direct jobs in the state.3
The rapid growth of the solar industry in North Carolina is thanks to a litany of policy mechanisms enacted by the state to support its renewable energy industry. Not only is North Carolina one of the few states in southeast with a renewable portfolio standard, but its RPS contains an 0.8% carve-out for solar.4
North Carolina also has several state tax incentive meant to support renewable energy installations and manufacturers.
That policy support has paid off. Clean energy supported over 22,000 jobs in North Carolina last year.5
Learn more about energy in North Carolina with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
North Dakota’s wind energy industry has a lot of potential; it ranks 6th in the U.S. in that regard.1
And the state has been taking advantage. Over 15% of North Dakota’s electricity came from wind energy in 2013.2
That’s important for this notoriously energy-intensive state -- although it is sparsely populated, long winters and a booming energy production industry have made North Dakota the 4th most energy-intensive state on a per-capita basis.3
A large reason for the development of wind power in North Dakota is the array of pro-renewable policies in the state. Despite a voluntary renewable portfolio standard that has already been met (and ends this year), the state offers a tax credit for renewable projects,4
along with property tax abatements and reductions for renewable projects.
It’s not all wind energy in North Dakota. The state also gets 5% of its electricity from hydropower.5
It remains to be seen just how much the clean energy industry will grow in the state, but the early returns are undoubtedly promising.
Learn more about energy in North Dakota with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Up until 2014, Ohio’s clean energy industry was saving money for consumers and creating jobs in the process. Ohio led the U.S. in manufacturers of wind turbine components and was 2nd in total solar equipment providers.1
In 2014, the solar industry supported nearly 3,800 jobs in-state.2
And the state’s energy efficiency program was on pace to save Ohio ratepayers $5.6 billion by 2020.3
But the state legislature froze Ohio’s successful renewable energy and energy efficiency standards in 2014,4
even though they had reduced electricity bills in the state by 1.4% from 2008 to 2012.5
Despite the intense popularity of the standards – Ohio voters supported them by a ratio of nearly 3-16
– Governor John Kasich signed the bill repealing the state’s clean energy standards. This was before an administration-funded report came to light that showed renewables supported more jobs (31,000) in Ohio than previously thought.7
Ohio currently gets a minimal amount of its electricity from renewable sources.8
And with the intense uncertainty surrounding the state’s energy policies, it’s unlikely that will change.
Learn more about energy in Ohio with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Oklahoma can’t claim many significantly developed renewable energy resources outside of wind energy, but the state’s wind industry is unquestionably one of the strongest in the U.S.
Thanks to 29 wind farms concentrated in the western half of the state, Oklahoma generates the 4th most electricity from wind energy in the country,1
and wind power makes up 15% of the state’s electricity portfolio – enough to meet Oklahoma’s renewable portfolio standard. Wind energy is a big reason why Oklahoma boasts some of the cheapest electricity prices in the nation.2
All of that wind power comes with tangible economic benefits: wind power supports over 1,600 jobs in Oklahoma.3
This reliance on wind energy delivers more than jobs in wind turbine manufacturing and installation. The state’s intense wind deployment has also driven job growth in the nascent renewable energy storage industry.4
The good news is that more wind power is on the way. The state’s wind energy capacity is set to grow by 67% over the first half of this year as more installations come online.5
The bad news is that, outside of some hydropower, Oklahoma’s solar and biopower potential has yet to be developed in any meaningful capacity.
Learn more about energy in Oklahoma with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Oregon is truly a leader in clean energy deployment and investment. The state gets over 70% of its electricity from renewable sources, close to 60% of which comes from hydropower.1
But that hasn’t stopped it from continuing to invest in clean energy industries: Oregon received the first FERC license awarded to a wave energy project in the U.S.2
Oregon is home to one of the largest wind farms in the U.S.,3
and the state has installed over 3,000 MW of wind energy capacity to date.4
Oregon is also poised to begin generating power from floating offshore wind turbines,5
and is experimenting with a solar feed in-tariff program, in which solar generators receive a fixed incentive per kW/h produced for a set number of years.6
Worth noting, the state's geothermal resource potential ranks third in the country. 7
Learn more about energy in Oregon with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Coal has generally been the dominant source of energy in Pennsylvania – the state produces the 4th most coal in the country.1
But that is slowly changing thanks to a slew of pro-renewable policies, steady growth in the clean energy sector, and a Governor supportive of clean energy.
Wind power is the largest source of renewable energy in Pennsylvania, although the state also generates electricity from hydropower and biomass.2
Pennsylvania’s established manufacturing base has turned it into a leader in the production of wind turbine components; there are 28 facilities that manufacture components for the wind industry in the state.3
Pennsylvania does not have a renewable portfolio standard, but it does have an alternative portfolio standard that includes an 8% carve-out for renewable sources.4
Learn more about energy in Pennsylvania with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
Despite some of the lowest per-capita electricity usage in the country,1
Rhode Island’s electricity prices are among the highest in the United States.2
Virtually all of the state’s electricity is generated by natural gas produced out-of-state.3
The state has taken steps to reduce electricity costs and develop its domestic energy industry. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranks Rhode Island 3rd for policies that encourage energy efficiency,4
and it has invested proceeds from a regional cap-and-trade initiative in efficiency programs.5
And Rhode Island’s renewable energy industry is starting to ramp up. State legislators are interested in expanding a program that supports distributed generation from renewables in the state.6
The first offshore wind turbines in the country are poised to commence construction off the coast of Block Island, a popular destination for tourists.7
Learn more about energy in Rhode Island with ACORE’s Renewable Energy in the 50 States
We are all eyewitnesses now.
Years back, during my Arctic expeditions, I experienced the early effects of a warming world in the forms of thin sea ice on the Arctic ocean and ice shelves disintegrating that took weeks or months to cross via ski or dogsled. News of the Antarctic’s Larsen B Ice Shelf collapse, which happened in a matter of weeks and rendered my International Trans-Antarctic expedition irreplicable, turned me from aware to active on the issue of climate change. Back then, I was one of a relatively small number of people who could serve as an eyewitness to climate change. Even at that point, I knew that this was a defining issue of our time, and committed to telling the story of climate change in the hopes of avoiding greater escalation of the problem.
SolarCity Corp., the nation’s largest installer of residential solar panels, says it will invest $200 million in Minnesota to build its first community solar gardens, and hopes to sell much of their electric output to apartment dwellers who have been left out of the rooftop solar market.
Minnesota municipal utilities and electric cooperatives will soon be able to charge more to customers who produce their own solar or wind energy.
Supporters say it's a common sense change. Opponents, however say it could decrease future investments in clean energy.
The Oklahoma Senate unanimously approved SB 498, terminating the 5-year property tax exemption for wind developers, and SB 502, ending wind developers’ investment/new jobs tax credit. Both end as of January 1, 2017, but wind projects currently in production or put into production by December 31, 2016, will retain the full 5-year property tax exemption.
As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prepares its final rules to drive down greenhouse-gas emissions from electric power generation, an analysis published today suggests that Minnesota’s utilities may be able to meet the requirements with relative ease.
Markets are making it clear that clean energy is good for business and is smart public policy. Earlier this year, 3M made a commitment to set quantitative goals for sourcing and/or production of renewable energy. This proactive, financially sound approach will reduce 3M’s greenhouse gas emissions as well as the company’s exposure to volatile energy prices. In Minnesota, 3M joins some of the state’s largest companies in committing to clean energy. With the private sector leading, will policymakers follow? Now is the time for Minnesota lawmakers to increase the state’s commitment to clean energy by setting a new 40 percent target for renewable energy and increasing energy savings to 2 percent annually.
New data from the Minnesota Department of Revenue shows that wind energy production went up last year from 8.6 million megawatts in 2013 to 9.5 million megawatts in 2014.
Since 2004, Minnesota has now produced more than 56 million megawatts of wind energy. Those megawatts serve as a valuable homegrown resource, but they also help preserve one of Minnesota’s most important resources: water.
When Sen. Mitch McConnell says states should refuse outright to comply with federal clean-air rules, he's continuing a long tradition of stubborn resistance by the coal industry and its political supporters.
But he's out of step with the American people, and is doing a disservice to them by failing to lead the country — and his state — into the new energy economy.