Magazine article Regional Economist

Energy and Electricity in the U.S. Economy: An Overview

Magazine article Regional Economist

Energy and Electricity in the U.S. Economy: An Overview

Article excerpt

The United States consumed a little less than 100 quadrillion Btu of energy last year. On a per capita basis, this amounted to a little less than 1 million Btu a day, an amount unchanged since 1975.14

Petroleum is still the largest source of energy (including imports) consumed in the United States, accounting for about 40 percent of total consumption last year. This percentage was nearly double that derived from natural gas (23 percent). Electricity is also an important source of energy for the U.S. economy, but, unlike petroleum and natural gas, it must be produced from other sources, like coal, nuclear power or hydroelectric. Last year, nuclear electric power accounted for a little more than 8 percent of total energy consumption, but energy consumption derived from coal was 23 percent.

In terms of electricity generation, fossil fuel power plants garner the lion's share (roughly 72 percent) of the little more than 4 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity produced in 2005. The most important fuel in this regard is coal. Coal-fired power plants accounted for nearly 50 percent of total electricity generation in 2005. The next largest source of electricity generation was from nuclear power plants (19 percent), followed by natural-gas fired plants (18.6 percent). Electricity generated from renewable sources like hydroelectric and wind, while signifi- cant, accounted for only about 9 percent of the total electricity generated in 2005.

Since 1980, electricity produced by nuclear power has increased at a 4. …

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