While Wyoming might not be the most populous state, it’s certainly populated with millions of breathtaking views. Thus far on the trip we had seen the immense beauty of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Washington, and Montana – so it was baffling that I was still surprised at just how much more beauty Wyoming had to offer.
The transition from Montana to Wyoming wasn’t too drastic since the two states share a similar topography, as they’re both part of the Rocky Mountain range, but once we got into the Shenandoah forest, it was hard not to feel like explorers traversing an unfamiliar territory. We drove for just seven hours that day, through the most beautiful part of the country – Yellowstone National Park, and just after it, Grand Teton National Park – before finally arriving at our final campsite just beyond Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
With the natural scenery, and plentiful rivers along the way, I had a feeling we’d be looking at a similar energy makeup as Montana and Oregon, however this time, I was wrong. Even though Wyoming has made strides in recent years in building their renewable reserves – as you can see by the stats listed on the EIA.gov website, “Wind power in Wyoming has more than doubled since 2009 and accounted for 12% of the state’s electricity net generation in 2020. The state installed the third-largest amount of wind power generating capacity in 2020, after Texas and Iowa” – they’re not a big producer of hydroelectric power as I would have guessed.
According to the state’s energy report from 2012, “Wyoming has a long history of hydropower dams, dating back to the early 1900s. While hydropower generation is considered small and seasonal, it represents a consistent and established electricity source. There are 15 hydropower plants on 10 reservoirs. Thirteen of these are operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and two by private companies. The total hydropower generation capacity in Wyoming is 299.6 MW. The five largest producers are Fremont Canyon/Pathfinder (66.8 MW), Seminoe (51.6 MW), Alcova (41.4 MW), Glendo (38 MW), and Kortes (36 MW)” (https://www.wsgs.wyo.gov/products/wsgs-2012-electricalgeneration-summary.pdf).
However, since 2012 it seems Wyoming has put their energy into producing wind power, which has led to some pretty remarkable advancements in their green energy sector. However green energy is still fairly new, and Wyoming has produced more than it’s share of coal and oil and gas for decades – just see the Quick Facts from eia.gov below (https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=WY#tabs-1):
- “Wyoming produces 14 times more energy than it consumes, and it is the biggest net energy supplier among the states.”
- “Wyoming has been the top coal-producing state since 1986, accounting for about 39% of all coal mined in the United States in 2019, and the state holds more than one-third of U.S. coal reserves at producing mines.”
- “Wyoming was the eighth-largest crude oil-producing state in the nation in 2020, accounting for slightly more than 2% of U.S. total crude oil output. The state was the ninth-largest natural gas producer, and accounted for almost 4% of U.S. marketed gas production.”
- “Wyoming’s large energy-producing sector and small population helps make the state first in per capita energy consumption and gives it the second most energy-intensive state economy, after Louisiana.”
It’s funny how we could travel through the state for days and days without seeing so much as a windmill, or an oil well, and come to find out after that Wyoming produces a fairly large amount of energy, enough even to export energy to other parts of the country, and generates a large portion of their economy. Of course, however helpful these quick facts and charts may be, they do not paint the full picture. To learn more about Wyoming’s economy, check out the links below: