Electricity is changing. As states like Minnesota commit to 100% carbon-free electric power, Montana is opting to double down on coal. Some of these developments make headlines, while others go unnoticed – though they’re no less important. Case in point: Can you guess which state generates the largest fraction of its electricity from renewable sources?

The answer: South Dakota. That state produced 83% of its in-state electricity from renewable sources in 2021, the result of its impressive implementation of wind energy. Between 2019 and 2021, South Dakota more than tripled wind energy production.

Bonus data points

  • The other leading states on this measure — Vermont, Washington, and Idaho — all derive the majority of their renewable energy from hydropower.
  • Texas produces the most renewable energy of any state, but it also generates an outsized amount of electricity from fossil fuels. So renewables only account for 26% of the state’s total electricity production. In 2021, 44% of Texas’s electricity came from fossil gas, also known as natural gas.
  • Important note: The map shows electricity production within each state’s borders. Many states and utility companies exchange electricity with other states. So this data may not reflect the energy that is actually consumed — as opposed to generated — within each state.

Data for electricity generation in all 50 states over the past 20 years is available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Electricity Data Browser.

Karin Kirk

Karin Kirk

Karin Kirk is a geologist and freelance writer with a background in climate education. She's a scientist by training, but the human elements of climate change occupy most of her current work. Karin is...