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Today in Energy

July 23, 2020

Colorado ranks seventh among states with the most energy production

top 10 energy-producing states
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, State Energy Profiles and State Energy Portal

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest State Energy Data System (SEDS) update shows Colorado ranked seventh in energy production within a state in 2018. Since 2010, the growth in Colorado’s energy production has come primarily from increased fossil fuel production, particularly natural gas and crude oil. Electricity generation from renewable sources has also grown, and coal production has declined.

Colorado’s 5.5 million cubic feet per day of natural gas gross withdrawals in 2019 was the eighth largest of any state. According to data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, most of the natural gas in Colorado is produced in five counties. Weld County, north of Denver, was the leading county for natural gas production, accounting for nearly half of the state’s natural gas production in 2019. Garfield, La Plata, Mesa, and Rio Blanco counties, in the western half of the state, accounted for almost 44% of Colorado’s natural gas production in 2019.

Crude oil production in Colorado has grown from 91,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2009 to 514,000 b/d in 2019, largely because of increased horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. In 2019, Colorado had the fifth-largest statewide crude oil production, accounting for nearly 4% of the U.S. total. As of December 2019, EIA estimates that about 4% of the economically recoverable U.S. crude oil reserves are located in the state.

Similar to the state’s natural gas production, growth in Colorado’s crude oil output has occurred almost exclusively in Weld County. Weld County’s oil production has grown from 58,000 b/d in 2010 to almost 465,000 thousand b/d in 2019, making this county the source of nearly 90% of crude oil produced in Colorado.

Colorado energy production of selected fuels
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, State Energy Profiles and State Energy Portal

Coal production has declined in Colorado since its peak of 36 million short tons in 2007. A total of 12.5 million short tons of coal was produced in Colorado in 2019, less than 2% of the national total. The decline in Colorado’s coal output follows the national trend and is largely attributable to natural gas and renewables replacing coal in the electric power sector. In 2010, 68% of the electricity generated in Colorado was from coal. By 2019, that share had fallen to 45%.

Renewable electricity generation in Colorado increased from 5.1 million megawatthours in 2010 to 13.9 million megawatthours in 2019. Renewables’ share of electricity generated in Colorado grew from 10% to 25% during that period.

Colorado electricity generation from renewable sources
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, State Energy Profiles and State Energy Portal

Wind has been the primary source of new renewable electricity generation in Colorado. Wind generation has more than tripled since 2010, and it provided nearly 20% of the electricity generated in Colorado in 2019. Solar generation, including both utility-scale and small-scale generation, has grown and recently surpassed hydroelectricity to become the second-largest source of in-state renewable generation.

Analysis and data for Colorado and other states are available in EIA’s State Energy Profiles. EIA also released the new State Energy Portal and related interactive and customizable charts and graphs.

Principal contributor: Brett Marohl