Texas' wind energy-generating capacity reached 7.118 GW in 1998, reports the American Wind Energy Association. Wind accounts for 10% of the state's electricity generating capacity.
Iowa came in at a distant second, with 2.791 GW of installed capacity.
A major hurdle to continued expansion is the lack of sufficient long-distance transmission lines. Most of the wind farms are located in West Texas and the Panhandle, far away from the energy-hungry metros like Dallas and Houston.
The Texas Public Utility Commission estimates that 2,400 miles of power lines will have to be built to meet electricity demand, at a cost of $5 billion. The money will come from monthly surcharges on consumers' electric bills.
One problem with relying too much on wind energy: the wind isn't constant. On hot summer afternoons, when power consumption is at its peak, the West Texas wind dies down, idling the massive turbine blades.
Paul Sadler, executive director of Austin-based The Wind Coalition, longs for a big breakthrough in electricity storage technology. When that happens, he says, energy generation will be "truly transformed."
After Texas and Iowa, the next three states with the highest wind energy capacity at the end of 2008 were California (2.517 GW), Minnesota (1.754 GW) and Washington (1.447 GW).