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Today in Energy

April 4, 2019

California imports the most electricity from other states; Pennsylvania exports the most

state electricity generation net imports and exports
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, State Energy Data System

Republished April 9, 2019 to subtract the direct use of electricity and unaccounted for electricity in the accounting of electricity trade. With this change, Wyoming replaced Texas as the fifth-highest net electricity exporter in the first figure. Values in the text have been updated accordingly.

Electricity routinely flows among the Lower 48 states and, to a lesser extent, between the United States and Canada and Mexico. From 2013 to 2017, Pennsylvania was the largest net exporter of electricity, sending an annual average of 58 million megawatthours (MWh) outside the state. California was the largest net importer, receiving an average of 89 million MWh annually.

Based on the share of total consumption within each state, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, and Idaho were the five largest power-importing states between 2013 and 2017. Wyoming, West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, and New Hampshire were the five largest power-exporting states. States with major population centers and relatively less generating capacity within their state boundaries tend to have higher ratios of net electricity imports to total electricity consumption.

state electricity generation share of consumption and losses
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, State Energy Data System

Wyoming and West Virginia were net power exporting states, meaning they exported more power to other states than they consumed from 2013 through 2017. Customers residing in these two states are not necessarily at an economic disadvantage or advantage compared with customers in neighboring states. However, large amounts of power trading may affect a state’s revenue derived from power generation.

Some states also import and export electricity outside the United States to Canada or Mexico. New York, California, Vermont, Minnesota, and Michigan are the five states that imported the most electricity from Canada or Mexico on average from 2013 through 2017. Similarly, Washington, Texas, California, New York, and Montana are the five states that exported the most electricity to Canada or Mexico, on average, for the same period.

Many states within the continental United States fall within integrated market regions, referred to as independent system operators or regional transmission organizations. These integrated market regions allow electricity to flow freely between states or parts of states within their boundaries.

EIA’s State Electricity Profiles provide details about the supply and disposition of electricity for each state, including net trade with other states and international imports and exports.

Principal contributor: Augustine Kwon