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South Dakota Leads Nation in Percentage of Electricity from Wind

South Dakota's wind power blows me away this morning. A Future Structure article reports that Kansas is swiftly expanding its wind power generation capacity, with Kansas utilities getting 19.4% of their electricity from wind power. Future Structure says that percentage is behind only Iowa and South Dakota.

South Dakota?! I check the most recent Energy Information Agency information on electricity generation, mash a couple spreadsheets, and get the following data on the percentage of net electrical generation coming from wind in each state in January 2013 and January 2014:

Census Division/State January 2014 January 2013
New England 2.1% 1.8%
Connecticut 0.0% 0.0%
Maine 8.4% 7.6%
Massachusetts 0.8% 0.7%
New Hampshire 2.5% 2.0%
Rhode Island -- --
Vermont 4.6% 3.6%
Middle Atlantic 2.2% 2.0%
New Jersey -- --
New York 3.6% 3.6%
Pennsylvania 2.0% 1.7%
East North Central 4.2% 4.0%
Illinois 7.0% 6.3%
Indiana 3.5% 4.3%
Michigan 4.2% 3.0%
Ohio 1.2% 1.2%
Wisconsin 3.3% 3.4%
West North Central 16.3% 14.4%
Iowa 32.8% 30.8%
Kansas 20.9% 16.9%
Minnesota 19.4% 16.7%
Missouri 1.6% 1.5%
Nebraska 6.4% 4.6%
North Dakota 21.1% 19.4%
South Dakota 36.2% 29.4%
South Atlantic 0.3% 0.3%
Delaware -- --
District of Columbia -- --
Florida 0.0% 0.0%
Georgia 0.0% 0.0%
Maryland 0.8% 1.1%
North Carolina 0.0% 0.0%
South Carolina 0.0% 0.0%
Virginia 0.0% 0.0%
West Virginia 2.2% 2.2%
East South Central 0.0% 0.0%
Alabama 0.0% 0.0%
Kentucky 0.0% 0.0%
Mississippi 0.0% 0.0%
Tennessee 0.1% 0.1%
West South Central 8.6% 6.5%
Arkansas 0.0% 0.0%
Louisiana 0.0% 0.0%
Oklahoma 17.9% 14.3%
Texas 10.5% 7.8%
Mountain 7.2% 5.8%
Arizona 0.3% 0.4%
Colorado 16.7% 14.2%
Idaho 20.1% 15.1%
Montana 10.9% 7.2%
Nevada 0.5% 0.4%
New Mexico 10.4% 5.9%
Utah 0.7% 0.6%
Wyoming 12.8% 11.4%
Pacific Contiguous 4.8% 4.6%
California 3.6% 3.3%
Oregon 8.5% 7.4%
Washington 4.7% 4.9%
Pacific Noncontiguous 4.0% 3.3%
Alaska 3.1% 2.3%
Hawaii 4.6% 4.1%
U.S. Total 4.8% 4.2%

In January 2014, wind generated 36.2% of South Dakota's electricity. Closest to that percentage were Iowa at 32.8%, North Dakota at 21.2%, Kansas at 20.9%, and Idaho at 20.1%.

Now if we could just stop all those nasty wind spills... although the wind we spill into Minnesota helps them generate 19.4% of their electricity.


  1. Sabrina 2014.03.26

    The question, though, is how much we ship out of state. That we generate the equivalent of 36% of our consumption doesn't mean we're using it in South Dakota. How much gets shipped out of state?

  2. bret clanton 2014.03.26

    The sad part is that our electric coops fight back so hard against small private wind energy generation....

  3. Paul Seamans 2014.03.26

    Right Bret, electric utilities will pay wind farms five cents per KWH but will only pay the individual producer about 2 1/2 cents per KWH. As costs come down I look for the real benefits to come from solar. Less moving parts and maintenance.

  4. Donald Pay 2014.03.26

    A point to keep in mind is that this is generation, not consumption, of electrical energy. Eastern SD consumes a lot of energy produced in Minnesota, which has nuclear power. Western SD gets still gets a lot of electrical energy produced from Wyoming coal plants.

    Still, wind is now the top source of electrical energy generation in South Dakota. There was a 23.7% drop in electrical generation by coal, which generated 235,000 Megawatthours from Jan. 2013 to Jan. 2014. In that same time frame wind generated 326,000 Megawatthours. Hydroelectric generation stood at 291,000 Megawatthours, which comes in second to wind. Natural gas generation stood at 45,000 Megawatthours, but had increased 68.1% between 2013 and 2014.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.26

    Good points all so far!

    Another important point is that South Dakota doesn't generate that much power in the first place. 16 states produced more gigawatthours of wind power in January than South Dakota did, but 44 states produced more total electricity than South Dakota.

    We beat everybody else on the percentage of power we generate from wind in large part because we don't have big coal or oil stocks to burn to generate that power. In January we produced 326 GWH from wind out of 900 GWH total juice. Compare that to North Dakota: 754 GWH wind out of 3,569 total GWH. Or compare Texas, the nation's leader in wind power production. Texas generated 3,866 GWH of wind power in January, 21.5% of national wind power. But on the chart above, Texas only shows 10.5% because their total electricity generation was 36,788 GWH.

  6. mike from iowa 2014.03.26

    I really was right that South Dakota beans sure work up a blow. :)

  7. owen reitzel 2014.03.26

    Ok Mike that's more than I needed to know. lol

  8. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.26

    Good for South Dakota!

  9. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.03.26

    Cory, I think that Sabrina and bret clanton are closer to the truth. Remember that even during the time that Senator Thune was fighting in the US Senate to extend the tax credit for wind producers to longer terms, (you know the farm bill always has to be for 5 years so that the farmers know how to plan), the State of South Dakota was doing exactly nothing to promote the development of the wind industry in South Dakota. Our then Governor Rounds and his legislature led by Rep Rhoden was more interested in pushing for development of DM&E to haul more coal through the State from Wyoming and to points East, in promoting the building of Big Stone II, the coal burning power plant on the south end of Big Stone Lake, the Basin electric coal burner in Selby and the coal burning power plant that was to be attached to the Hyperion oil refinery down at Elk Point.

    Now that it has become obvious, that there is going to be some sort of cost attached to the burning of coal, which will make it less attractive as a source for electricity, South Dakota is finally interested in expanding the wind industry. But a lot of the incentives available at the beginning of the century are no longer there. In the meantime, Iowa and Minnesota are two of the leaders in electricity produced from wind, while being down the list in the amount of wind available to harvest, while South Dakota, which is somewhere in the top 4 in the amount of wind to harvest is way down the list in the amount of wind being harvested.

    To Sabrina and bret's point, I remind all that South Dakota has been a net exporter of electricity for years due to the hydroelectric power from the dams on the Missouri River.

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