The winds of change are blowing through Texas—both literally and figuratively.
Home to both vast repositories of conventional and shale oil, the Lone Star State is also a major player in wind power, a new twist on the U.S. energy independence narrative. However improbable, the nation's second largest state has been ground zero for a quiet renewable energy revolution.
Texas has invested about $7 billion in a sprawling wind power network that spans nearly 4,000 miles. Wind power generates more than 12,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity for the state, according to the Texas' Public Utilities Commission. The state ranks first in the country for total MW of wind power capacity. Earlier this year, the state smashed a U.S. record for the most power generated from air power.
A combination of public subsidies, new federal carbon regulations and private investment has made Texas "one of the fastest growing hubs in the world for wind energy," said Matthew Senicola, registered representative of JHS Capital Advisors.
"Texas has one of the largest electricity consumption rates in the U.S. mainly derived from their exploding energy and production sector," he added.
In fact, wind plants have been a staple of Texas' electric supply since at least 1995, a function of the state's climate and the massive amounts of electricity it consumes. Overall, the sector has created more than 8,000 jobs nationwide–most of them in the Lone Star State, according to data from the American Wind Energy Association.