The region produces more than 53% of all biofuel energy in the U.S. Biofuel represents about 2.3% of total U.S. energy production.
Industrial is the region’s largest energy consumer - nearly 75% larger than transportation.
The region's electrical needs are largely overseen by the Midwest Reliability Organization, one of eight regional electric reliability councils under North American Electric Reliability Corporation Authority.
Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota and western Iowa form the core of the Sweeping Plains, a vast expanse of grasslands stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Missouri River and from the Rio Grande to Canada. The region’s flat terrain and open prairies are ideal for turbine placement. Iowa led the nation by producing 28.5% of its electricity from wind power in 2014, followed by South Dakota at 25.3% and Kansas at 21.7%. North Dakota (17.6%) and Oklahoma (16.9%) ranked fifth and sixth, respectively. Nationwide, wind power provided a modest 4.4% of the nation’s electricity in 2014.
The region also possesses ample fossil fuel resources in its northern and southern states. The oil rich Bakken Formation, which extends below the western half of North Dakota, has emerged as one of the most important sources of new oil production in the United States. In 2013, North Dakota was the second largest crude oil-producing state in the nation and accounted for more than 11.5% of total U.S. crude oil production. Oil fields within Oklahoma and Kansas are part of the Mid-Continent Oil Region, a vast fossil fuel-producing area which extends from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. Both states are also situated on the Hugoton Field, one of the nation’s largest individual natural gas reserves.
The entire Sweeping Plains region is crisscrossed by oil and gas pipelines that deliver the product to refineries, distribution centers and power plants. Railway lines are also critical to the region’s energy infrastructure, as they carry coal from Wyoming, which is used to produce the bulk of the region’s net electricity generation.
Much of the region's net electricity generation comes from coal. Coal-fired facilities typically generate about 80% of the net electricity in North Dakota, 66% in Kansas and Nebraska and 60% in Iowa. Nearly all of the coal consumed in the region is low-sulfur bituminous coal shipped by railcar from Wyoming.
The Sweeping Plains region abuts (and overlaps with) the Corn Belt to the east. Iowa and Nebraska are the top two corn-based ethanol producing states in the nation, and South Dakota is number five. [Iowa accounted for 28% of the nation's fuel ethanol production in 2014.] Both Iowa and Nebraska deliver most of their ethanol to other states, where air quality standards require motor gasoline blended with ethanol.
Cushing, Oklahoma is the terminus for pipelines running to nearly every major oil patch in North America, and is the designated delivery point for West Texas Intermediate, a low-sulfur crude oil traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange.