A hydroelectric plant along the Skagit River in Washington state
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Clean electricity is most prevalent in these 20 US states

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January 31, 2024
Edmund Lowe Photography // Shutterstock

Clean electricity is most prevalent in these 20 US states

As the U.S. experiences more power outages, states are modernizing aging power grids with more sustainable alternatives. According to the Clean State Energy Alliance, 23 states currently have legislation that mandates cleaner energy. And with these shifts in infrastructure come business opportunities and reduced pollution.

To find where clean electricity is most prevalent – and to identify areas for potential upside – SmartAsset compared the amount of solar, wind, geothermal, and nuclear operations as a percentage of a state's entire electricity production capacity to determine the 20 with the "cleanest" electricity.

Key findings

  • Over 84% of Washington's electric generation capacity is renewable. Most of this comes from hydroelectric generation, which accounts for more than two-thirds of Washington's total electricity capacity. Ranking second and third, Oregon and Idaho have roughly 75% of the electricity production capacity from clean sources.
  • Texas has the highest capacity for electricity generation, by far. When it comes to clean electricity, the Lone Star State has the largest wind capacity: over three times more than the second-biggest wind power producer, Iowa. Texas also has the second-largest solar capacity. In total, 38% of Texas' electricity capacity comes from clean electricity.
  • California has the highest solar and geothermal production capacities. While the Golden State ranks 12th for the percentage of electric capacity attributable to clean sources, California has more solar capacity than any other state. California also generates the most geothermal electricity, with three times the capacity of second-largest producer Nevada.
  • Illinois has the most nuclear capacity. Overall, Illinois ranked 13th for clean electricity prominence within the state's electricity capacity. Pennsylvania and South Carolina have the second- and third-most capacity for nuclear-sourced electricity.
top 20 states States With the Most Clean Electricity
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Top 10 states with the highest proportions of clean electricity production

  1. Washington
    Washington's clean electricity made up 84.7% of its total summer capacity (30,852.7 megawatts). Hydroelectric power was the major contributor with 21,428.6 megawatts, followed by wind (3,374.9 megawatts), solar (188.4 megawatts) and nuclear (1,151 megawatts).
  1. Oregon
    Oregon's clean electricity accounted for 76.3% of its total capacity (17,242.5 megawatts), with hydroelectric sources providing almost half (8,367.9 megawatts). Additionally, solar and wind generated 793.7 and 3,976.5 megawatts, respectively, while geothermal produced 19.5 megawatts.
  1. Idaho
    Idaho's clean electricity made up 74.9% of its total capacity (5,355.3 megawatts). Hydroelectric sources generated roughly half (2,672.3 megawatts), with wind having added an additional 968.3 megawatts. Solar and geothermal produced 362 and 10 megawatts, respectively.
  1. Vermont
    Almost three-quarters (73.9%) of Vermont's total energy capacity (839.4 megawatts) came from clean electricity. Hydroelectric power accounted for 331.3 megawatts, while  solar and wind generated 139.2 and 150.2 megawatts, respectively.
  1. South Dakota
    South Dakota's clean electricity made up 69.0% of its total capacity (6,323.9 megawatts), with wind power delivering 2,767.2 megawatts and hydroelectric generating 1,598 megawatts. Solar capacity was minimal at 1 megawatt.
  1. Montana
    Over two-thirds (67.1%) of Montana's total energy capacity (6,438.8 megawatts) came from clean electricity. The state's wind and hydroelectric capacities were 1,478.9 and 2,826.3 megawatts, respectively, with solar having made a small contribution of 17 megawatts.
  1. Iowa
    Clean electricity made up  57.0% of Iowa's total energy capacity (22,546.4 megawatts). Wind energy accounted for the most (12,378.5 megawatts), with solar and hydroelectric having generated 260.5 and 209.4 megawatts, respectively.
  1. New Mexico
    New Mexico's clean electricity made up 52.4% of its total energy capacity (10,229.9 megawatts), with wind and solar having generated 4,410.9 and 855.7 megawatts, respectively. The state also had a geothermal capacity of 8.6 megawatts.
  1. Kansas
    Clean electricity accounted for just over half (51.6%) of the total energy capacity in Kansas (18,426.6 megawatts). Wind capacity reached 8,238.1 megawatts, while solar and nuclear energy produced 36.5  and 1,225 megawatts, respectively.
  1. North Dakota
    North Dakota's clean electricity made up 51.4% of its total energy capacity (9,409 megawatts). Wind provided 4,323.3 megawatts and while hydroelectric sources added 510 megawatts.

Data and methodology

States are ranked by the percentage of clean energy sources used to generate the total net summer electricity production capacity. Clean energy sources include wind, solar and photovoltaic, nuclear, geothermal and hydroelectric. Total electric power industry includes industrial, commercial, and residential power. Data is for 2022 and comes from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

This story was produced by SmartAsset and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.

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