Tag Archives: Energy Information Administration

EIA’s portal compares energy sector in 50 states

If you’ve ever been curious about energy facts in your state—such as which sector consumes the most energy, or how your state’s electricity prices compare to the rest of the country—the State Portal hosted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is a convenient, user-friendly resource.

EIA’s portal compares energy in the 50 states from EcoWest on Vimeo.

In a previous EcoWest post, we highlighted another useful data visualization tool, Saxum’s United States of Energy map, which illustrates energy production and known fuel deposits around the country. The EIA web portal offers an interactive tool with state-level energy data and detailed profiles for each state. It also aggregates data on state rankings of energy consumption, production, and prices across sectors and fuel types. Users can create customized energy infrastructure maps, visualize state-level data by generating graphics and charts, and analyze key energy statistics for each state.

In this post, we’ll use the state of Montana as an example to highlight the range of information that the EIA portal provides. From the main landing page, you can select Montana to display the state’s profile overview. Under the “Layers/Legend” menu item, you can choose from over 30 infrastructure layers, including coal plants, hydroelectric plants, natural gas pipelines, transmission lines, and LNG export terminals.

Below are five outputs from the portal that we found especially useful.

1)     State energy rankings

For easy reference, the portal provides a chart on the state profile page to indicate how that state ranks against all other U.S. states in terms of energy consumption, production, pricing, expenditures, and emissions. As you can see from the screenshot below, Montana is the country’s eighth largest producer of coal. The state emits a relatively low level of carbon dioxide, mostly owing to its sparse population.

State Energy Profile: Montana

2)     Energy production by source

As shown in chart below, coal dominates energy production in Montana. The state is home to the country’s largest estimated recoverable coal reserves. Roughly one-quarter of the coal mined in Montana is consumed in-state for electric power; two-fifths is distributed domestically to more than 15 states; and one-third is exported, mainly to Asia.

Montana: Energy Production

3)    Energy consumption by sector

You can also view the breakdown of energy consumption by sector for each state. In Montana, the transportation and industrial sectors account for roughly three-fifths of energy use. At the national level, the industrial and transportation sectors are also the leading energy users.

Montana: Consumption by Sector

4)    State energy prices compared to U.S. average

It’s also interesting to compare how energy prices in your state stack up against other states. In Montana, energy prices are about 25 percent lower than the national average. These low prices are primarily a result of a stable supply of energy produced in-state and a relatively low demand from the state’s comparatively small population.

Montana: Energy Prices

5)    Renewable energy potential

Montana is well-situated, geographically speaking, for renewable energy production. The state has significant hydroelectric potential from rivers flowing out of the Rocky Mountains. And across its wide plains, the state has the third highest commercial wind potential in the country.

On the EIA state portal, you can map renewable energy potential by source across the country. As this map shows, Montana has significant geothermal potential, particularly in the state’s mountainous southwest corner. Currently, geothermal resources are largely untapped as an electricity source in Montana, a fact which many attribute to the state’s low fossil fuel energy prices, small population, and lack of transmission infrastructure in remote locations.

Geothermal Potential

Given its frequency of updates and user-friendly format, the EIA portal is a handy resource for academics, decision-makers, and residents who are keen to learn more about their state’s energy portfolio. Take a tour of the portal and let us know what you learn about your state.

Data sources

EIA’s state energy portal provides state-level energy data and infrastructure overlays for all 50 U.S. states.


Download Slides: State Energy PortalDownload Slides: State Energy Portal (2.96 MB pptx)
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State energy dashboard compares use, prices, and spending

The 50 states pursue different paths to supply energy to their residents, with some heavily reliant on coal, others dependent on hydropower dams, and many tapping a broad portfolio of sources. I described this diversity of approaches in previous posts on energy flow diagrams and a map of the “United States of Energy.”

In this post, I take a closer look at how U.S. states compare in their energy consumption, spending, and prices. Using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Review, I created a dashboard to visualize the patterns, and I put together an accompanying slide deck that you can download at the bottom of this post.

Per capita energy consumption

The map below (click to enlarge) illustrates per capita energy consumption in 2010. Four states—Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Louisiana—stick out. This group of states shares two things in common. First, all have relatively low populations, so the denominator in the per capita calculation is small. Second, all four states are major energy producers. Because it generally takes a lot of energy to extract, produce, and distribute fossil energy sources, these states also rank high on consumption.

Per capita energy consumption by state (2010)

Energy use, prices, and spending

The chart below adds two more dimensions: prices and per capita spending. The bars are shaded green according to the total energy consumption in the state. I’ve sorted the states alphabetically, but on the dashboard you can order them by any of these variables.
Energy use, prices and spending by state (2010)

Prices versus consumption

I was curious whether there was any relationship between energy consumption and prices. Economics 101 suggests higher prices could mean lower consumption. The scatter plot below shows that there is, in fact, an inverse relationship between energy prices and use. I’ve sized the circles according to the total energy consumed in the state and colored them according to per capita energy expenditures.

EcoWest State Energy Dashboard

The spread in energy consumption and prices across the 50 states is very wide. Energy prices in Hawaii and some Northeast states are double, or nearly so, the costs in Louisiana and North Dakota. Per capita consumption in New York and California is less than one-fourth the use in Alaska and Wyoming.

Once again, the four energy-producing states are outliers. Leaving aside Alaska, where prices for many commodities are high, these states have the lowest energy prices. I repeated the analysis by excluding the four states and the R2 value increased from 0.465 to 0.566, indicating a stronger correlation between price and consumption.

But correlation is not causation! Other factors, such as the local climate and travel patterns in a state, may be more important variables. Several of the states with the most expensive energy prices and lowest energy consumption are in the Northeast (e.g., Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York). Prices tend to be higher in this urbanized region, which has a large population, extensive mass transit, and fewer vehicle-miles traveled. In other words, the high cost of gasoline in Manhattan is probably not the main reason why its residents drive less.

In a future post, I’ll analyze state-level data on carbon dioxide emissions.

Data sources

The energy dashboard is based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Review, specifically this table.


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EcoWest’s mission is to analyze, visualize, and share data on environmental trends in the North American West. Please subscribe to our RSS feed, opt-in for email updates, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.

Flow diagrams of U.S. and Western carbon emissions

The United States emits around 5.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year. That’s roughly the annual CO2 exhaust of 1.2 billion cars, according to the U.S. EPA’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) equivalency calculator, and it’s nearly 20 percent of annual global GHG emissions.

U.S. and Western carbon flow diagrams from EcoWest on Vimeo.
Flow diagrams from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory provide informative visual summaries of the nation’s carbon emissions from generation to end use. These graphics, also known as Sankey diagrams, show how many GHGs originate from the burning of fuels and how many GHGs are attributable to different economic sectors. Think of the left side of the flow as the supply side, and the right as the demand side. In this deck, I’ve also compiled slides representing GHG emissions in the 11 Western states, which show some interesting patterns in GHG emissions from origin to end use.

Data on GHG emissions is only available at the national level. To understand state-by-state differences, Lawrence Livermore uses state-level energy use data to estimate the flow of GHGs. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration compiles such energy use data in the State Energy Data System (SEDS).

Sankey carbon

U.S. carbon emissions are generated by burning coal, natural gas, and petroleum products (gasoline, diesel, etc.); roughly 35%, 23%, and 42% of 2010 emissions, respectively. The carbon flows in individual states vary widely depending on state energy portfolios. End uses differ according to what industries predominate and population levels. Some of the patterns that jump out:

  • California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington are less coal-dependent and more petroleum dependent.
  • Natural gas accounts for a higher portion of carbon emissions in states like Nevada and Oregon.
  • Petroleum accounts for a lower portion of carbon emissions in Colorado and Wyoming.

Comparing Washington to Wyoming demonstrates how end use differs by state. Energy generation accounts for the bulk of carbon emissions in Wyoming, but the transportation and industrial sectors dominate in Washington. Wyoming is a major energy exporter to other states, while Washington relies heavily on hydropower, which does is essentially carbon-free.

When examining these slides, it’s important to remember that the size of the rectangles and the lines between them are not comparable from state to state. They show, within a state, where GHGs originate and terminate in various uses.

Lawrence Livermore also produces similar graphics for energy and water, and in another post, we provide a little background on Sankey diagrams, which are great tools for visualizing how commodities flow through systems.


Download slides: carbon flow diagramsDownload slides: carbon flow diagrams (4.03 MB pptx)
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EcoWest’s mission is to analyze, visualize, and share data on environmental trends in the North American West. Please subscribe to our RSS feed, opt-in for email updates, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.