Mississippi's potential for wind power generation is relatively small given the available consistent wind energy in our state. The U.S. Department of Energy classifies wind energy areas as classes 1 to 7, with seven possessing the greatest wind speed and wind density. Class 3 winds are considered to be the minimum required for effective wind power generation and, for Mississippi, minimum winds exist only further off shore.
The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory publishes a Wind Resource Map that details the various levels of potential wind energy available around the country. As shown in the map to the left, most of the eastern half of the United States, with the exception of coastal and a few mountainous areas are unsuitable for wind power based on this data.
In 2006, Southern Company and Georgia Tech completed a study of the feasibility of generating electricity from wind off the coast of Georgia. The study found average wind speeds of 16-17 mph about five miles off the Georgia coast. These "Class 4" winds have been used in other areas of the country for land-based wind farms but offshore wind resources typically must be stronger to overcome higher construction and operational costs.
Southern Company will continue to pursue the potential for development of feasible wind energy generation in coastal areas. The advent of lower-speed and more hurricane-tolerant wind turbine designs may overcome economic and technological hurdles. With community support, wind energy may yet someday contribute to the energy needs of the Southeast. See also DOE Wind Resource Map.