Texas is King of Energy
Just Not the Kind You Think
“This is a strange version of Texas,” I looked over at my driver. “Hundreds of windmills and not a drill rig in sight.”
In December 2019, I drove west out of Abilene Texas into the Permian Basin. We were looking for drilling rigs working on new shale wells. We didn’t find any.
The only rigs we did find were either repairing wells or drilling “conventional” oil wells. A year earlier, this was a hotbed of drilling oil wells. Back then, you would pass truck after truck filled with rig parts, pipe, and fracking components.
By 2019, it was all gone.
It was a “through the looking glass” version of Texas. Because instead of oil equipment on the highway, we passed wind turbine components. Giant propeller blades that needed extra-large semi-trailers to move them. And they dominated the skyline like giant, alien trees.
Texas Dominates Wind Energy Production
Texas is the leader of a small handful of states that dominate wind energy production. Based on Energy Information Administration data from 2020, Texas is by far the largest producer of wind energy. Here’s a breakdown of wind energy production in the U.S.:
This table points out a bizarre statistical fact that I didn’t expect. Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma account for nearly half of all wind power generated in the U.S. And the states I expected to produce a lot more – California, Oregon, and Washington pale in comparison.
Texas accounted for more than a quarter of U.S. wind power for three years running. And it goes further back than that. In 2008, the Public Utility Commission of Texas began the process by expanding transmission lines from wind farms in the west of the state to the big cities like Dallas and Houston. By 2018, the state generated 16% of its power needs from wind.
And the state created a model for Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and other states.
Iowa was an early mover in wind power. The state cut its coal power by 25% from 2011 to the present. And it doubled its wind power over that same period. By 2018, wind power supplied 34% of Iowa’s power needs.
Oklahoma wasn’t far behind. In 2018, it supplied 10% of wind power generated in the U.S. It doubled its capacity for wind energy between 2014 and 2018. And wind power provides 34% of the state’s power needs. That’s second only to natural gas.
Frankly, the situation in Texas doesn’t surprise me. My friends in Texas are true entrepreneurs. I would argue that the state’s reliance on commodities like cotton, cattle, oil, and gas foster that spirit. Because commodities boom and bust on such regular cycles, you have to be nimble to make it. That means embracing the needs of the moment.
And this moment calls for wind power and Texas answered the call.
For the good,