Wind energy is a renewable form of energy derived from wind turbines. Wind energy produces zero emissions at the source, consumes no fossil fuels and uses no water. Due to its environmental benefits, low operating costs and increasing demand for alternative fuel sources, wind energy is one of the fastest-growing forms of energy nationwide.
Although Texas is known as an oil and gas state, wind energy has played an increasingly significant role in the state’s total energy production. Currently, Texas leads the nation in wind energy production, with nearly three times as much wind capacity as the next-closest state, Iowa. As governor of Texas, George W. Bush signed a critical law in 1999 — with a provision called a renewable portfolio standard — that set Texas on a course to wind dominance. Texas was producing 180 megawatts of wind-generated energy; now Texas produces around 10,000 megawatts.
Nationwide, there has also been rapid growth in wind power capacity. In 2007, wind power capacity increased 43 percent across the nation. Comparatively, wind power capacity increased 57 percent in Texas. In 2006, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas reported that wind accounted for 6.2 percent of Texas's electricity production in 2009.
In April 2010, wind reached 12.1 percent of the state's electricity production. Wind development in Texas has encountered some hitches. So many wind farms exist in West Texas now that there are not enough transmission lines to bring the power to cities that need it; the state is working on a $5 billion transmission plan to fix that. Also, billionaire T. Boone Pickens has canceled his plans, announced in 2008, to build the world's biggest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle, blaming transmission constraints.