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Why Texas Uses More Energy Than Any Other State

More than 10 percent of the nation’s energy is consumed in Texas.

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Wind energy accounted for almost 23 percent of the power produced in Texas in the first quarter of 2017.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

According to a report released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Texas led the nation in energy consumption in 2015 (the most recent year data was available), maintaining a streak that we’ve boasted for the fifty-fifth year, since 1960.

The report, which ranks all fifty states on their consumption, has some staggering statistics in it. Did you know that Texas consumes nearly one hundred times as much energy as Vermont? Or that Texas accounts for nearly 13 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S.? Or that California, whose population is 12 million higher than ours, uses only 60 percent of the energy we do? Now you’ve got some energy facts to pull out at parties.

Of course, these aren’t statistics that tell the whole story of energy consumption in Texas. That’s an awfully deep shade of Aggie maroon for Texas on that map up there, but that’s not the only way to visualize consumption habits across the U.S. For instance, if you look at the per capita usage, things are a bit lighter here:

When it comes to energy usage adjusted by population, Texas does considerably better in being conservation-minded. According to the EIA’s analysis of the state from January, we’re in the bottom 20 percent of states for residential energy consumption per capita. (We appear to be somewhere in the middle of the pack according to the blue map above, but this map illustrates the combined tally of residential, industrial, commercial, and transportation usage, not residential alone.)

More than half of the energy consumed in Texas is for industrial use, according to the EIA, while residential use—which in terms of sheer BTUs is the most in the nation, even as our per capita usage is relatively low—accounts for just over 13 percent. Transportation accounts for nearly a quarter, while commercial comes in slightly lower than residential.

The energy sector itself uses a portion of this industrial energy allotment to generate power, which is to say the energy that Texas consumes gets put back out there. Texas is largest state that’s a net exporter of energy—while states like California, Florida, and New York are importers.

In Texas, as in most states that aren’t Washington and Oregon, nonrenewable sources outpace renewables considerably in terms of the amount of energy they provide. However, the winds of change are blowing there: in the first quarter of 2017, according to Scientific American, wind energy (which provides almost all the renewable energy that Texas generates) accounted for almost 23 percent of the power in the state. That’s up from just 10 percent in 2010, and 3 percent in 2006. So while much hasn’t changed since 1960 in terms of where Texas ranks in energy consumption, the nature of that power is shifting.

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  • William Ahern

    “California, whose population is 12 million higher than ours, uses only 60 percent of the energy we do”

    This is sometimes called the Rosenfeld Effect for the long-time member of the California Energy Commission who pioneered energy efficiency standards, Dr. Arthur Rosenfeld.

    Here’s a great interview with Rosenfeld upon his retirement from the commission, “Art Rosenfeld, the ‘godfather’ of energy efficiency”,

    http://www.mercurynews.com/2009/12/23/art-rosenfeld-the-godfather-of-energy-efficiency/

    There’s also a Wikipedia article for Rosenfeld Effect,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenfeld_Effect

    There are disputes about how effective California’s strict energy efficiency standards have been. But the Mercury News article is a great read simply because Rosenfeld seemed to have been a great scientist who left lasting impressions with all the people he worked with, not to mention on our laws and standards. He passed away at the beginning of this year.

    • DudesonMcDudeMan

      It is interesting thanks for that… But CA flat demand also suggest they don’t have much industry.

      I’m a big fan of consumption and renewables.

      • Cathymbrown

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      • WestTexan70

        A fellow Texan makes the rest of us look laughable. The latest numbers from the right-wing, GOP-backing, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) shows you to be extremely incorrect. http://www.nam.org/Data-and

        As of the end of 2015, California’s total manufacturing output, its manufacturing employment, the number of firms, and average annual compensation are ALL higher than those in Texas. http://www.nam.org/Data-and

        In fact, there are more than TWICE as many manufacturing firms in California than there are in Texas.

        Quit listening to Perry, Abbott, and Danny Goeb — they’re making you stupid.

    • Dan on the River

      Takes a lot of energy to produce all that fertilizer California uses on their crops. Where do you reckon that comes from?

  • BarksintheCountry

    Counting hydro in Oregon and Washington skews the numbers. Once an ounce of water goes on through a hydro plant it doesn’t do it again.

    • RustyShk

      You are as confused as your point, which is…? Are you falsely claiming that hydro energy isn’t renewable?

      Hydro has significant environmental effects in terms of natural habitats, but it doesn’t produce carbon. It doesn’t contribute to the record-breaking temperatures we keep seeing.

      • BarksintheCountry

        “produce carbon”? Remember, record-breaking means there was a previously set ‘record’, even before the enviros started fudging the numbers to verify their models. Further, keep in mind there is a difference between climate and weather.

      • ekaneti

        70s in atlanta in August.

  • Jed

    missed the why? part.

  • Ex Democrat
  • ekaneti

    Didnt really explain why.

    LA and SF and SD are all long the coast and have moderate climates. All of Texas has hot hot summers but DFW can get very cold in the winter. Plus there is than all the driving. CA has driven most of the manufacturing out of the state while TX continues to gain manufacturing.

  • Chris

    5 kWh of power required to refine a gallon of gasoline.