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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for March 2018  |  Release Date: May 24, 2018  |  Next Release Date: June 26, 2018

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Highlights: March 2018

Key indicators




Oil-powered generation, despite a smaller market share, still plays a prominent role in regional and seasonal power markets

Annual U.S. oil-powered generation fell from 114,647 gigawatthours (GWh), or 3.1 % of total power generation, in 2001 to 12,583 GWh, or 0.3% of total generation, in 2017. This decline represents an 89% reduction in oil-powered generation over that period. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-923, Power Plant Operations Report; preliminary data 2017.


The recent decrease of oil-powered generation resulted from a variety of factors including strong growth in natural gas generation, as well as growth in both wind and solar generation. The 2001 to 2017 decline in the oil-powered electricity generation continues the decline that began following the oil price shocks of the mid-1970’s, which raised the price of oil-powered generation, and the emergence of nuclear power generation in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Note: Includes small amounts of generation from petroleum coke.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review, April 2018.

Although oil continues to decline as an electricity-generating fuel, it still has strong regional and seasonal demand. Hawaii generates two-thirds of its electricity from oil and is the only state where oil is the leading generation source. Alaska also relies on oil for nearly 15% of the state’s total generation. Collectively, the Pacific non-contiguous region generates about 44% of its power from oil.

A strong seasonal reliance on oil-based generation also exists in some areas, particularly in colder climates where natural gas deliverability and capacity may be limited. The monthly oil-powered share of total generation can fluctuate significantly even on a national level, as illustrated below.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-923, Power Plant Operations Report, preliminary monthly 2018 data.

Strong seasonal swings in oil generation occurred in January 2018, when extremely cold temperatures struck the Middle Atlantic and New England regions. Four of the six New England states--Maine (14.2%), Massachusetts (13.3%), New Hampshire (8.3%), and Connecticut (5.8%)--generated 5% or more of their total electricity from oil in January 2018. All three states in the Middle Atlantic region were above the U.S. average oil share of 1.4% for January 2018, with New York at 10.7%, New Jersey at 3.5%, and Pennsylvania at 1.9%. Even in the northern areas of the South Atlantic region, the demand for oil was strong in January--Delaware (23.1%), Maryland (5%), Virginia (4.9%), and North Carolina (2.2%) all had oil shares greater than the monthly national average in January 2018.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-923, Power Plant Operations Report, preliminary monthly 2018 data.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-923, Power Plant Operations Report, preliminary January 2018 data.

Principal Contributors:

Joy Liu
(Joy.Liu@eia.gov)

Paul McArdle
(Paul.McArdle@eia.gov)

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