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Illinois   Illinois Profile

State Profile and Energy Estimates

Profile AnalysisPrint State Energy Profile
(overview, data, & analysis)

Last Updated: April 20, 2017

Overview

Illinois is a key transportation hub for crude oil and natural gas moving throughout North America.

Located in the center of the United States, Illinois is the most densely populated Midwestern state, ranking fifth in the nation in both population and gross domestic product.1,2 Because of its central location and its access to rail and aviation hubs and major waterways, Illinois plays an important role in the nation's economy. The state is a key transportation hub for crude oil and natural gas moving throughout North America.3 Illinois' fossil fuel resources include substantial coal reserves and some crude oil.4 The state has the largest number of nuclear power plants in the nation,5 as well as the only chemical facility that converts raw uranium yellowcake into uranium hexafluoride, a step in making nuclear fuel.6,7 Despite its large urban population, Illinois has more than 26 million acres of farmland and ranks among the top 10 states in the market value of agricultural products sold.8,9 Corn, one of the state's most important crops,10 is the feedstock for the state's many ethanol plants,11 making Illinois one of the top ethanol-producing states in the nation.12 The state is also a leading biodiesel manufacturer13 and has substantial wind-powered electricity generating capacity.14

Illinois is one of the five largest energy-consuming states. Industry is the state's largest energy-consuming end-use sector, followed by the residential and transportation sectors.15 Machinery, chemicals, and processed foods are the most important manufactured items. Other energy-intensive industries in Illinois include petroleum refining and coal mining.16,17 However, the state's per capita energy consumption is at the national median.18 The Illinois climate is continental, with four seasons and marked temperature variations, and winters can include heavy snowfalls, especially around Lake Michigan.19

Petroleum

Illinois' crude oil production20 and reserves21 are modest and are located in the southern half of the state.22 Oil exploration in the state began in the 1860s, but commercial production did not occur until 1905. Since the 1860s, tens of thousands of wells have been drilled in Illinois. Crude oil production peaked in the middle of the 20th century, and most wells now operating in the state produce less than 2 barrels of crude oil per day.23

Illinois has the largest crude oil-refining capacity in the Midwest.

Nevertheless, Illinois has the largest crude oil-refining capacity in the Midwest and the fourth largest capacity in the nation, after Texas, Louisiana, and California.24 The largest refinery in the state is the Wood River refinery, in southwestern Illinois near St. Louis, Missouri. Illinois refineries process domestic crude oil, as well as Canadian and other imported crude oils.25,26 The state has crude oil ports at Chicago on Lake Michigan and at Peoria on the Illinois Waterway that connects Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. Petroleum products, primarily asphalt and road oil, are also handled at Chicago's port.27 Illinois is crossed by eight crude oil and eight petroleum product pipelines.28

Illinois is among the top 10 petroleum-consuming states. The transportation sector consumes three times as much petroleum as all the other end-use sectors combined.29 Almost half the petroleum used in the state is consumed as motor gasoline. More than one-tenth of petroleum is consumed as jet fuel at the state's busy aviation hubs, making Illinois the sixth largest consumer of jet fuel among the states. Consumption of liquefied petroleum gases (LPG) rises in wet years, when LPG is used to dry corn at harvest, and LPG may comprise as much as one-tenth of the state's petroleum consumption.30,31 The only areas in the state that require reformulated motor gasoline with ethanol are around Chicago in the northeast and near St. Louis, Missouri, in the southwest.32 However, there are more than 200 refueling stations across Illinois selling E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Only Minnesota and Michigan have more E85 refueling stations.33

Natural gas

Illinois has few producing natural gas wells and minimal production and reserves.34,35,36 However, the state is a major natural gas crossroads, with 18 interstate natural gas pipelines and two natural gas market centers.37 Illinois is second only to Michigan in total natural gas storage capacity, with 28 natural gas storage fields and a combined capacity exceeding 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.38

Illinois is a major natural gas crossroads, with 18 interstate natural gas pipelines and two natural gas market centers.

Natural gas enters Illinois from the west and south, primarily through Iowa, Missouri, and Kentucky. About two-thirds of it continues on north and east, mainly to Indiana and eastern markets.39 Illinois is one of the top 10 natural gas-consuming states in the nation.40 The residential sector uses about two-fifths of all natural gas delivered to consumers in the state, the largest share of any sector.41 Four in five Illinois households use natural gas for heating.42 The industrial sector is the second largest natural gas-consuming sector in Illinois and uses slightly more than one-fourth of the natural gas delivered in the state. Natural gas use by the electric power sector varies substantially from year to year, depending on fuel economics. In 2016, the electric power sector generated a record amount of electricity from natural gas.43,44,45

Coal

Coal is the most important mined product in Illinois,46 and coal mining has a long history in the state. The first European discovery of coal in North America was made in 1673 along the Illinois River.47 Coal underlies two-thirds of the state.48 The 23 active bituminous coal mines in Illinois produce about 6% of U.S. coal.49,50 Recoverable reserves at producing mines are estimated to be nearly 2.5 billion short tons, second only to the coal reserves of Wyoming. Illinois coal reserves account for more than one-eighth of the nation's total recoverable coal reserves at producing mines.51

Recoverable coal reserves at producing mines in Illinois are the second largest in the nation.

Illinois coal typically has a high sulfur content, so many electric utilities burn Illinois coal in combination with lower sulfur coal from other regions in order to meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act.52,53 In 2015, electric generators in 16 other states burned Illinois coal, but in only 3 of those states did Illinois coal fill as much as one-fifth of generators' needs. The state's coal is transported to other states mainly by rail and barge. Almost one-fifth of the coal mined in Illinois is consumed in the state, and much of that coal is moved by truck, tramway, or conveyor.54,55 In 2015, another one-fifth of the coal mined in Illinois was exported to other countries.56

Although coal consumption for electricity generation has declined somewhat,57 the electric power sector remains the largest coal-consuming sector in Illinois, and the state is second only to Texas in its use of coal to produce electricity.58 Nearly all the U.S. coal shipped into Illinois comes from Wyoming by rail and is used for electric power generation. Four-fifths of the shipments of Illinois coal to in-state consumers are delivered to the electric power sector as well. About 5% of all the coal used in Illinois is consumed by industrial plants and coke plants.59

Electricity

Illinois leads the nation in electricity generation from nuclear power.60 Typically about one-eighth of the nation's nuclear power generation, and about half of all net electricity generation in Illinois, is produced by the state's 6 nuclear power plants with their 11 reactors. The nuclear plants are all ranked among the 10 largest electricity generators in the state.61,62 Because of economic issues in the electricity market, two stations were scheduled to close in 2017 and 2018, but the Illinois legislature in late 2016 approved measures to keep the stations operating another decade.63

Illinois leads the nation in electricity generation from nuclear power.

Coal has long been the second largest electricity provider in the state, but the fuel's share has declined as older coal-fired generating plants have been shut down or converted to natural gas.64 In 2016, coal provided less than one-third of net generation. In the previous 10 years, coal provided two-fifths to one-half of all power. Natural gas, which in the past has supplied less than 5% of Illinois generation, provided nearly one-tenth in 2016.65,66 Wind provided almost all the remaining generation.67 Illinois generates considerably more electricity than it consumes,68 and the state supplies its surplus electricity to interstate grids. Illinois is served by two regional electricity grids. One connects the northern portion of the state, including the major urban areas around Chicago, with the Mid-Atlantic states. The rest of Illinois is connected to a grid that serves much of the middle of the nation, from Louisiana to Canada.69,70,71

Retail sales of electricity in Illinois are fairly evenly distributed among the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. Sales are largest in the commercial sector, followed closely by the residential sector.72,73 Only 1 in 7 homes in Illinois use electricity for heating,74 but 9 in 10 households in the region use air conditioning.75

Renewable energy

Illinois is a leading producer of both ethanol and biodiesel, with the third-largest production capacity in the nation for ethanol and fourth for biodiesel.76,77 A fertile prairie state, Illinois is a major corn and soybean producer.78 Corn is the feedstock for the state's many ethanol plants, and soybeans are the primary feedstock for biodiesel facilities.79,80,81

Although renewable resources account for only 6% of net electricity generated in Illinois, their contribution has increased dramatically over the past decade and has doubled since 2010.82,83 Wind is the primary renewable resource used for electric power generation in the state.84 In 2016, Illinois was sixth in the nation in terms of installed wind capacity, with more than 4,000 megawatts online, and the state has considerable further wind power potential.85,86 Almost all of the remaining electricity generated from renewable resources in Illinois comes from biomass, mainly municipal landfills.87,88 Despite the state's many rivers, the relatively level terrain of the prairie limits hydroelectric potential, and less than 1% of the state's electricity generation is provided by hydroelectric power.89 Solar power provides less than 0.1% of the state's net electricity generation, but solar photovoltaic (PV) use has grown rapidly in the last decade. About two-fifths of solar generation in 2016 came from distributed (customer-sited, small-scale) generation, like rooftop solar panels.90,91

The Illinois renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requires that all investor-owned electric utilities and other retail electricity suppliers obtain increasing proportions of their retail sales from renewable resources. The RPS does not apply to municipal utilities or electric cooperatives. The requirements started at 2% in 2009 and will reach 25% in 2026. Investor-owned electric utilities with more than 100,000 Illinois customers must obtain at least 75% of their annual renewables requirement from wind and at least 6% from solar PV. As of 2016, 1% of the renewables requirement must come from distributed generation. Other retail electric suppliers only need to obtain 60% of their annual requirement from wind, but they still must meet the 6% solar PV requirement. The Illinois Power Agency procures renewable resources by competitive bid, and electricity providers contract with approved renewables suppliers. Legislation passed in 2016 requires that a portion of both the wind and the solar requirements come from new generating projects. Meeting that provision will mean an estimated 3,000 megawatts of new solar capacity and 1,300 megawatts of new wind capacity in Illinois.92,93

In 2007, Illinois also created an energy efficiency portfolio standard that requires electric and natural gas utilities to achieve long-term reductions in retail sales through efficiency measures. As a result, the state, working with the utilities, has assembled a portfolio of energy efficiency programs available for residential, commercial, and industrial consumers.94,95

Endnotes

1 U.S. Census Bureau, State Population Totals Tables: 2010-2016, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016 (NST-EST2016-01), 2015 Population Estimates.
2 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Regional Data, GDP & Personal Income, Begin using the data, Annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State, GDP in Current Dollars, Classification NAICS, All Industries, Area All States, Time Period 2013-15.
3 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Illinois, Profile Data, Distribution & Marketing, accessed March 7, 2017.
4 U.S. EIA, Illinois, Profile Data, Reserves & Supply, accessed March 7, 2017.
5 U.S. EIA, Nuclear Reactor Capacity, Table 1, Nuclear Reactor, State, and Net Capacity (October 2016).
6 Honeywell International, Metropolis, Illinois, About Us, accessed March 7, 2017.
7 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Uranium Conversion, updated January 31, 2017.
8 U.S. EIA, Illinois, Profile Data, Energy Indicators, accessed March 7, 2017.
9 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Census of Agriculture, 2012 Census Highlights, Table 2, Top States in Agricultural Sales, 2012.
10 Illinois Department of Agriculture, Facts About Illinois Agriculture, accessed March 7, 2017.
11 Ethanol Producer Magazine, U.S. Ethanol Plants, updated February 14, 2017.
12 Nebraska Energy Office, Ethanol Facilities' Capacity by State, updated October 20, 2016.
13 U.S. EIA, Monthly Biodiesel Production Report, Table 4, Biodiesel Producers and Production Capacity, by State, December 2016.
14 American Wind Energy Association, Illinois Wind Energy, accessed March 7, 2017.
15 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C10, Energy Consumption Estimates by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2014.
16 U.S. EIA, "Industries Consumed More Than 30% of U.S. Energy in 2011," Today in Energy (September 25, 2012).
17 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Regional Data, GDP & Personal Income, Begin using the data, Annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State, GDP in Current Dollars, Classification NAICS, All Industries, Area Illinois, 2013-15.
18 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C13, Energy Consumption Estimates Per Capita by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2014.
19 Angel, Jim, "Precipitation in the Land of Lincoln," Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, accessed March 9, 2017.
20 U.S. EIA, Crude Oil Production, Annual-Thousand Barrels, 2010-15.
21 U.S. EIA, Crude Oil Proved Reserves, Reserves Changes, and Production, Proved Reserves as of 12/31, Annual, 2010-15.
22 Illinois State Geological Survey, Oil Fields in Illinois, accessed March 7, 2017.
23 Illinois Department of Natural Resources, About Oil and Gas in Illinois, accessed March 7, 2017.
24 U.S. EIA, Number & Capacity of Petroleum Refineries, Atmospheric Crude Oil Distillation Operable Capacity, Annual as of January 1, 2011-16.
25 U.S. EIA, Refinery Capacity Report 2016 (June 22, 2016), Table 3, Capacity of Operable Petroleum Refineries by State and Individual Refinery as of January 1, 2016, p. 8-10.
26 Phillips 66, Wood River Refinery, About, accessed March 7, 2017.
27 U.S. EIA, Petroleum & Other Liquids, Company Level Imports, January-December 2016, 2015.
28 U.S. EIA, Illinois, Profile Data, Distribution & Marketing, accessed March 7, 2017.
29 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F15, Total Petroleum Consumption Estimates, 2014.
30 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C2, Energy Consumption Estimates for Major Energy Sources in Physical Units, 2014.
31 U.S. EIA, "Propane Use for Crop Drying Depends on Weather and Corn Markets as well as Crop Size," Today in Energy (October 2, 2014).
32 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gasoline Standards, Programs, see Reformulated Gasoline, Reid Vapor Pressure, Winter Oxygenates, accessed March 7, 2017.
33 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Alternative Fueling Station Counts by State, updated March 7, 2017.
34 U.S. EIA, Number of Producing Gas Wells, 2010-15.
35 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Gross Withdrawals and Production, Marketed Production, Annual-Million Cubic Feet, 2011-16.
36 U.S. EIA, U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Proved Reserves, Year-end 2015 (December 2016), Table 10, Total natural gas proved reserves, reserve changes, and producton, wet after lease separation, 2015.
37 U.S. EIA, Illinois, Profile Data, Distribution & Marketing, accessed March 7, 2017.
38 U.S. EIA, Underground Natural Gas Storage Capacity, Total Number of Existing Fields and Total Storage Capacity, Annual 2009-14.
39 U.S. EIA, International & Interstate Movements of Natural Gas by State, Illinois, Annual, 2010-15.
40 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Consumption by End Use, Total Consumption, Annual, 2011-16.
41 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Consumption by End Use, Illinois, Annual, 2011-16.
42 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Illinois, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2011-15 American Community Survey 5-year estimates.
43 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Table 1.7.B.
44 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Detailed State Data, Net Generation by State by Type of Producer by Energy Source (EIA-906, EIA-920, and EIA-923), 1990-2015, updated November 30, 2016.
45 U.S. EIA, Illinois Natural Gas Deliveries to Electric Power Customers, Annual, 1997-2016.
46 NETSTATE, Illinois Economy, Mining, updated February 25, 2016.
47 American Coal Foundation, Timeline of Coal in the United States, accessed March 8, 2017.
48 "Coal Geology of Illinois," 2010 Keystone Coal Industry Manual, p. 456.
49 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2015 (November 2016), Table 1, Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, 2015 and 2014.
50 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2015 (November 2016), Table 6, Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Coal Rank, 2015.
51 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2015 (November 2016), Table 14, Recoverable Coal Reserves and Average Recovery Percentage at Producing Mines by State, 2015 and 2014.
52 Illinois State Geological Survey, Coal: Illinois' Black Treasure, accessed March 8, 2017.
53 Tomich, Jeffrey, "Looking to Burn Ill. Coal at Home, Lawmakers Declare War on PRB's ‘Garbage Coal,'" E&E News (May 18, 2015).
54 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report 2015 (November 2016), Domestic Distribution of U.S. Coal by Origin State, Consumer, Destination and Method of Transportation, Illinois.
55 Landis, Tim, "The Long Haul: Viper Mine Conveyor Carries Coal 5.5. Miles," The State Journal-Register (August 29, 2012).
56 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report 2015 (November 2016), Domestic and Foreign U.S. Coal Distribution by Origin State, Illinois.
57 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report, Archive, Domestic distribution of U.S. coal by destination state, Illinois, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.
58 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2015 (November 2016), Table 26, U.S. Coal Consumption by End Use Sector, by Census Division, and State, 2015 and 2014.
59 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report 2015 (November 2016), Domestic distribution of U.S. coal by destination State, consumer, destination and method of transportation, Illinois.
60 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Table 1.3.B, 1.9.B.
61 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Detailed State Data, Net Generation by State by Type of Producer by Energy Source (EIA-906, EIA-920, and EIA-923), 1990-2015.
62 U.S. EIA, State Electricity Profiles, Illinois Electricity Profile 2015 (January 2017) data table 2B, Ten largest plants by generation, 2015.
63 Watt, Anthony, "Q-C Nuclear Plant Will Stay Open; House, Senate Pass Exelon Bill," qconline.com (December 1, 2016).
64 Lyderson, Kari, "Conversion to Natural Gas Brings New Life to Aging Coal Plants," Midwest Energy News (February 24, 2017).
65 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.4.B, 1.7.B.
66 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Detailed State Data, Net Generation by State by Type of Producer by Energy Source (EIA-906, EIA-920, and EIA-923), 1990-2015.
67 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.14.B.
68 U.S. EIA, State Electricity Profiles, Illinois Electricity Profile 2015 (January 2017), Table 10, Supply and Disposition of Electricity, 1990 through 2015.
69 ISO/RTO Council, About the IRC, accessed March 8, 2017.
70 PJM, PJM at a Glance, accessed March 8, 2017.
71 U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Electric Power Markets: Midcontinent (MISO), updated March 10, 2016.
72 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Table 5.4.B.
73 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Detailed State Data, Retail Sales of Electricity by State by Sector by Provider (EIA-861), 1990-2015.
74 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Illinois, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2011-15 American Community Survey 5-year estimates.
75 U.S. EIA, Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), 2015 RECS Survey Data, Table HC7.7.
76 Nebraska Energy Office, Ethanol Facilities' Capacity by State, updated October 20, 2016.
77 U.S. EIA, Monthly Biodiesel Production Report (February 28, 2017), Table 4, Biodiesel producers and production capacity by state, December 2016.
78 Illinois Department of Agriculture, Facts About Illinois Agriculture, accessed March 9, 2017.
79 "U.S. Ethanol Plant List, All Platforms, Existing," Ethanol Producer Magazine, updated February 6, 2017.
80 "USA Plants, Existing," Biodiesel Magazine, updated December 12, 2016.
81 Dodson, Don, "UI prof: Ethanol boom over; biodiesel ramping up," The News-Gazette (December 10, 2012).
82 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.11.B.
83 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Detailed State Data, Net Generation by State by Type of Producer by Energy Source (EIA-906, EIA-920, and EIA-923), 1990-2015.
84 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017),Tables 1.11.B, 1.14.B.
85 American Wind Energy Association, Illinois Wind Energy, accessed March 9, 2017.
86 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Illinois Wind Resource Map and Wind Potential Capacity, see "Table" link (February 2015).
87 U.S. EIA, State Electricity Profiles, Illinois Electricity Profile 2015 (January 2017), Table 5, Electric power industry generation by primary energy source, 1990 through 2015.
88 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.11.B, 1.14.B, 1.15.B.
89 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017),Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B.
90 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.17.B.
91 U.S. EIA, State Electricity Profiles, Illinois Electricity Profile 2015 (January 2017) data table 5, Electric power industry generation by primary energy source, 1990 through 2015.
92 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Renewable Portfolio Standard, Illinois, updated December 9, 2016.
93 Maloney, Peter, "How the Illinois Energy Reform ‘Fixed' the State's RPS, Promising a Renewables Boom," Utility Dive (December 22, 2016).
94 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE,Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, Illinois, updated February 11, 2016.
95 Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Energy Efficiency, accessed March 10, 2017.