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The United States of Energy: America’s Power Obsession

System Administrator

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These maps illustrate when all of the nation’s currently operational power plants first went online. The information was obtained from the United States Energy Information Administration’s 2011 Annual Generator Report.

The Annual Generator Report lists every operating power station in the U.S., including its location, type of energy source, and the year it first became operational.

Power Station Breakdown

The United States is still largely dependent on fossil fuels as its primary source of energy. While a handful of states have more hydroelectric plants than fossil fuel plants, nearly all states receive most of their power from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas.

Renewables such as hydropower, wind power and solar power contribute substantially to the U.S. power grid. Despite these contributions, we still have a heavy reliance on fossil fuels.

Most Popular Type Of Station

1. Fossil fuel (3,383 stations)
2. Hydroelectric power (1,421 stations)
3. Wind (646 stations)
4. Biomass (616 stations)
5. Solar (235 stations)

Most Nuclear Power Stations

1. Illinois (6 stations)
2. New York (5 stations)
3. Pennsylvania (5 stations)
4. South Carolina (4 stations)
5. Alabama, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina (3 stations each)

Most Power Stations Using Fossil Fuels

1. California (288 stations)
2. Texas (202 stations)
3. Iowa (159 stations)
4. Illinois (147 stations)
5. Michigan (143 stations)

Most Hydro Stations

1. California (253 stations)
2. New York (155 stations)
3. Washington (73 stations)
4. Idaho (72 stations)
5. Wisconsin (65 stations)

Most Wind Stations

1. Minnesota (120 stations)
2. California (90 stations)
3. Texas (84 stations)
4. Iowa (45 stations)
5. Oregon (30 stations)

Most Solar Stations

1. California (74 stations)
2. New Jersey (46 stations)
3. Arizona (20 stations)
4. New Mexico (17 stations)
5. North Carolina (15 stations)

Even though some states have taken the initiative to move away from stations powered by fossil fuels, a majority of power still comes from sources such as natural gas, coal, and oil. See the state-by-state breakdown below.


One barrel of crude oil is about 42 gallons and can produce an estimated 5,800,000 Btu. The total U.S. power consumption in 2012 was 37.38 quadrillion Btu. This would equal 270,000,000,000 gallons of crude oil, or almost enough crude oil to fill a swimming pool that is 52 feet deep, 5 miles wide, and 5 miles long.

Top Oil Consuming States

Texas (5,918 trillion Btu)
California (3,284 trillion Btu)
Louisiana (1,722 trillion Btu)
Florida (1,529 trillion Btu)
New York (1,273 trillion Btu)

Top Coal Consuming States

Indiana (1,193 trillion Btu)
Kentucky (910 trillion Btu)
Missouri (768 trillion Btu)
West Virginia (759 trillion Btu)
Wyoming (490 trillion Btu)

Top Natural Gas Consuming States

Michigan (804 trillion Btu)
Oklahoma (713 trillion Btu)
Alabama (682 trillion Btu)
Mississippi (480 trillion Btu)
Alaska (347 trillion Btu)

Even though the consumption of fossil fuels is still high, oil has made a drastic downturn since the 1970s. Coal has only recently started to make a downturn, while natural gas has drastically increased.


Based on 2012 CO2 emissions associated with electricity generation, coal produced 74% (1,510 million metric tons) of the total pollution, with natural gas coming in second with 24% (494 million metric tons), and oil in third with 1% (12 million metric tons).

Can Solar Save Us?

Using data from the Land Art Initiative, we can determine that 1 sq km would output 1,364,720,600,000 Btu (based on 2009 projections). This means the U.S. would need 27,390 sq km (10,575.3 sq mi) of solar panels to meet our needs (2012 consumption data): about 5.6x the size of the Grand Canyon.


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posted on: July 14, 2014
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