Talk about the US electricity generation sector and most people refer to national trends, but the fact is that in recent years state and regional policy has been crucial to unique local energy developments, as this Breaking Energy infographic, using US government data, shows.

Click on the picture above for a full size version, or to download.

The presence of certain fuels, like natural gas in Oklahoma, make it a dominant source of power generation in that state. But Colorado does not lack for fossil fuels, and California is famous for its oil and gas fields, many now using advanced forms of hydraulic fracturing and enhanced recovery techniques to pull fossil fuels from the ground. Yet in both states, wind power dominated electricity capacity additions, while states with almost no natural gas production of their own, like Florida, added more than 1000MW of natural gas-fueled capacity.

State policy on permitting and emissions is what often makes the difference. For all of its available biomass fuel and utter absence of coal reserves, the state put in service more than 500MW of coal-fired power in the first six months of this year and no reportedly large addition of biomass whatsoever.

Wind supporters will be happy with some of the numbers, but less happy with others. States with large existing wind farms, like Texas, added no wind capacity in the first half of 2011 despite dominating the country’s renewable generation electricity capacity additions. But the industry seems to have little need for concern about solar and biomass catching up: they are lagging far behind this year.

Despite substantial challenges for financing, permitting and access to transmission, the US as a whole continues to add significant amounts of new power generation each month. Tracking the additions is an essential part of discovering what the US will look like, both at the state and the national level, in the next ten to twenty years and beyond. What is built today, defines tomorrow.

See an earlier Breaking Energy infographic: Energy Efficiency Around The World.