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David Byrne explores how Texas became No. 1 in the US in wind power

David Byrne (yes, that David Byrne, of the band Talking Heads) runs an online publication called Reasons to be Cheerful. Yesterday, Byrne published a feature that he authored that explores “how a conservative, oil-pumping state became one of the world’s biggest generators of wind power.” And that state is Texas.

Byrne’s feature is a fascinating piece, because as regular readers of the Electrek Green Energy Brief know, we report regularly on how Texas leads the United States in wind energy generation.

But Byrne explores how this red state came to embrace green energy. You can read the whole piece here, but here’s an excerpt:

West Texas is oil country. But there is something else going on in West Texas: It is a world capital of wind energy. Last year, Texas got more of its energy from wind — 23.4% — than any other US state. In fact, if Texas were a country (which some might argue it is) it would rank fifth in the world in wind power generation, just behind Germany and India.

Texas uses a LOT of energy. Since 1960, it has consumed more energy annually than any other state — a hundred times more than Vermont, and 40% more than California, which has far more people… This insatiable appetite for energy has given Texas an incentive to look for new power sources. Over the past two decades, it’s found one on its western range, where gale-force winds sweep the plains.

All this focus on wind may seem surprising — we all know West Texas is oil country, and that the entire state often leans to the right politically… Wind has been forecast to be cheaper than oil in the long run — once the transmission lines and windmills are up, the costs, in theory, drop way down.

The same is true in Wyoming, where the biggest wind farm in the US is being built by a conservative oil tycoon. Saving the climate isn’t the incentive in these places — profitability is.

Electrek’s Take

We at Electrek take a slightly different stance from Texas’ reasoning: We are interested first in protecting the environment, ahead of profitability. And job creation is great — we fully support clean, well-paid jobs. But whatever the motive, whether it’s profitability or environmentalism, we hope that other states follow Texas’ lead, and think this article is a great backgrounder on why it’s happened, and how the country can go forward with green energy, with Texas as a model to follow.

Oil may have bottomed out, but green energy is getting cheaper, too. Say goodbye to oil.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.