Power Plants in the United States – Gas, Coal, Nuclear, Hydro, Wind

Power plants in the United States

The modern world is entirely dependent upon, and fueled by, electricity from several power generation sources.

Electricity power generation is primarily sourced from natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, oil.

The following maps show where each power plant location is in the United States. They also illustrate the power plant’s relative size with respect to annual generation of power.

As of December 31, 2017, there were about 8,652 power plants in the United States. They have operational generators with a combined electricity generation capacity of at least 1 megawatt (MW). A power plant may have one or more generators, and some generators may use more than one type of fuel.
– US Energy Information Administration

 
The background (squiggly lines) overlay on the maps indicate the location of major electrical power grid High Voltage lines (from 345 kV to 1,000 kV).

 

Nuclear Power Generation

nuclear-power-generation-in-united-states

There are 60 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 98 nuclear reactors in 30 U.S. states. They generated about 20 percent of electricity in the United States.

 

Coal Power Generation

coal-power-generation-in-united-states

There are ~400 coal-powered electric power plants in the United States. They generate about 30 percent of the nation’s electricity.

 

Natural Gas Power Generation

gas-power-generation-in-united-states

There are 1,793 natural gas-powered electric power plants in the United States. They generate about 34 percent of the nation’s electricity.

 

Oil Power Generation

oil-power-generation-in-united-states

There are 1,076 oil-powered electric power plants in the United States. They generate only about half of 1 percent of the nation’s electricity .

 

Hydro Power Generation

hydro-power-generation-in-united-states

There are 1,444 hydroelectric power plants in the United States. They generate about 7 percent of the nation’s electricity.

 

Map of Every Solar Power Plant Location in the USA

Location map of solar power plants in the United States
source: WashingtonPost.com

There are 1,721 solar-powered electric power plants in the United States. They generate about 1 percent of the nation’s electricity.

 

Map of Every Wind Power Plant Location in the USA

Wind Power Plant locations in the United States

There are 999 wind-powered electric power plants in the United States. They generate about 6 percent of the nation’s electricity.

 

 

States that rely heavily on nuclear power

states-that-rely-on-nuclear-power
States most reliant on electricity from nuclear:

Illinois
Vermont
Connecticut
New Jersey
South Carolina

Nuclear Power Plant Meltdown – 50 Mile Radius

 

States that rely heavily on coal power

states-that-rely-on-coal-power
States most reliant on electricity from coal:

North Dakota
Wyoming
Utah
New Mexico
Kansas
Iowa
Nebraska
Indiana
Ohio
Kentucky
West Virginia

 

States that rely heavily on gas power

states-that-rely-on-gas-power
States most reliant on electricity from natural gas:

California
Nevada
Texas
Louisiana
Florida
Alaska

 

States that rely on oil power

states-that-rely-on-oil-power
States most reliant on electricity from oil:
There’s really no heavily dependent state in this regard.

 

States that rely heavily on hydro power

states-that-rely-on-hydro-power
States most reliant on electricity from coal:

Idaho
Oregon
Washington
South Dakota

 

Map of Every Power Plant in the USA

Map of every power plant location in the United States
source: visualcapitalist.com

 

What’s the point of all this?

Why am I posting this on a preparedness blog?

To emphasize the complicated web of reliance that we have on these sources of energy to keep the system going. And the systemic risks that are certainly built-in.

Read more: If The Lights Went Out In America
Lights Out by Ted Koppel

 
I thought it was interesting to know which States may be heavily dependent upon one type of electricity generation source versus those which may be more diversified.

It doesn’t really affect us one way or the other. At least while systems are “Go”.

I get my electricity from ‘the grid’. However I do have supplemental alternative energy from a PV solar panel system. It’s not a big system, but enough to power all my critical systems in the house.

It was not really cost effective. But it does give me peace of mind in the electricity department.

From a preparedness standpoint, in a disastrous collapse scenario, I would rather have some alternative source of energy than be forced to get by without it. Even a small portable system to power up some essentials would be beneficial!

Read this novel and you’ll never be the same:
ONE SECOND AFTER
One Second After by William Forstchen

 
Continue reading: Solar Energy – A Simple Alternative

Read more: Solar Panels per Household in a Perfect World

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38 Comments

  1. Yeah we don’t rely on any one type here. We learned the hard way bout that. My hats off to them that keep it going too especially after storms.

    This also highlights the danger of mass migration aka “Golden Horde” dubbed by JWR.

    I hear Texans brag a lot about their own grid. Y’all should keep things like that under your hat cause if the Eastern grid, for instance, goes down they are all gonna head your way in short order and be in a sad shape when they arrive looking for better.
    That border invasion right now ain’t gonna be nothing in comparison.

    I just used this as an example cause it could be vice versa, so hold off on your red river hate lol

  2. Besides having an alternate source, one might consider it may be safer shtf to be living as far as possible from any of these power plants.

    Would think

    a) they would be prime targets of attack

    b)if the grid went down other than attack/sabotage, the plants themselves may become a danger due to lack of cooling/fires etc..

  3. It is worth considering that all sources of fuel are NOT equal, because of the role they play within each grid. The rough carpentry on this is as follows:

    1) The “base load” is generated by coal (called “fossil” in the biz) and nuclear, which run at a more or less steady output year round.

    2)The other forms of fuel are there for “peak load”. IOW to supply power over and above the base load on a short term basis. These vary significantly seasonally and even daily. A prime example is natural gas. A gas plant in a hot climate during the summertime will ramp up during business hours when more power is being drawn for air conditioning, etc. and down again during off hours.

    3) Wind, solar and hydro are not very significant in the big picture quite yet, they just add power when they can, a very small percentage of the overall load, even when maxxed out.

    Why bother informing oneself about this? The fact is anything other than fossil and nuclear (i.e. the base load), cannot possibly supply enough power to keep the lights on after the base load goes down. It is fantasy to think otherwise.

    1. “The fact is anything other than fossil and nuclear (i.e. the base load), cannot possibly supply enough power to keep the lights on after the base load goes down.”

      Agreed. As much as some people would like (or wish) that we could convert off of fossil fuels, the present facts and energy statistics get in the way.

      The modern world and industry would collapse without it (today’s energy sources from fossil fuels).

      I hope people don’t misunderstand my intent with this article. I’m not bashing fossil fuels. I suppose the main reason I put it together was because of the maps. I like maps.

      That said, I do look at alternative energies such as solar to be excellent methods for the preparedness-minded who may be concerned about dependence on the grid. It’s not financially practical (today’s grid energy is comparatively cheap).

      But it’s pretty cool when you’re in your home, appliances running (even air conditioners in the summer) while the grid meter isn’t spinning at all ;) …at least when the sun is shining.

  4. Just an idle thought from an old man that lives in the boonies. Would it be wrong to think that folks like me (I don’t believe I’m alone on this site) would be the first to have their grid power access curtailed in order to re-direct capacity to large population centers should significant number of power generating plants go off-line?

    Seems I recall “rolling blackouts” in the northeast when demand outstripped generating capacity. I would think that one would do well to consider how important their location would be, in the grand scheme of things, when it comes to rationing power, should total capacity be damaged, but not completely destroyed. I know from past experience with ice storms/tornadoes/weather related large scale grid damage, hospitals and population centers are brought online first, rural folks tend to get the least attention.

      1. Dennis,
        Yours is a valid point. I am also rural and we are at the end of the line, so to speak, if there is a large power outage. Cities first seems to be the policy. I have heard that if you live close to a power plant of some kind it does not mean you will always have access to the power, because of contractual agreements that the provider has with other users.
        In our self reliance journey we try to plan things as if there were no power available.

    1. Very true. The power companies will make the repairs that restore the largest number of customers first…if you are the only customer on a dead end road, expect to be waiting.

  5. I have to concur with Dennis point of view. The electric company was not prepared for the snow storm which hit our area, they said “we never expected it to be this extreme”. The city has its own power generation plants so they ‘assumed’ that the power would stay on.
    Mother nature gave them a hard lesson, along with the entire valley that wet heavy snow can take out tree limbs along with trees across power lines, trees coming down on homes making them inhabitable.
    The first 24-72 hours all power restoration was to ‘business’, then homes in the city before they even considered the outlying areas. Section by section the power was slowly returned, they had to call in crews from any state that had extra hands to assist. There was a crew all the way from Missouri here assisting with power restoration.

  6. Here in western Colorado, we rely on the grid, mostly fed by coal and natural gas fired generation units. We do have some small hydro units in the area, one put into operation just a few years ago by our irrigation district. It was supposed to provide electricity to the farms in the area, or at least that was the original intent when the district was formed over 100 years ago. Imagine my surprise when I found that the majority of the power from this new unit was being sold to a ‘ski town’, because they could make more money selling it as “clean energy”. I wonder if SHTF if that would be curtailed and the power used locally? I am not going to count on that.

  7. I’m under the impression that if there were to be a wide spread power outage (not just a residential or small commercial area) the priority for the electrical company is to restore power to specific areas first in order to get power back to critical infrastructure areas and get them off their generators. Military bases, local governmental districts (think police station, jail, etc.) and hospitals. Areas of some cities and towns are like circuits in your home. Switches or breakers can be thrown to shut some areas off in order to restore power to more important ones.
    That being said, we live way out in the country and I doubt sincerely that this area would be a priority of any kind in a widespread outage.

  8. I have to agree with Dennis ,two lifetimes ago when I was in SEAL training we would practice on civilian targets ,think dams ,power plants ,bridges and railroads ,, in most cases were in and out in 15 to 30 minutes ,unseen or at least not stopped ,if it had been for real would have made some real hurt ,
    I find it interesting that here in the PNW that there is a push to remove small and not so small hyd dams ,i can think of 6 right off the top of my head that are gone, ,all for fish habit ,there is even talk of removing the bigger snake river dams ,,,,wild and free you know ,

    Environmentalist; let the hungry s o b ,s shiver in the dark ,,,

    TEA AND CHOCOLATE for a select few ,

    1. OH,
      If the Snake river dams are removed as the wackos wish them to be, there are many repercussions. Most barge traffic will move to trucking, which will bring congestion and rapid road deterioration . The reservoirs will be gone for the recreational uses. How about the irrigation for all the crops that turn into food that we eat. The poor twits may have to find another way to charge up their electric cars, tsk. tsk. There will be lots of well paying jobs lost as well. Lunacy has no limits.
      We are very dependent on electricity as a society.

      1. Bluesman ,,,,loss of barge moving grain will shut down 40% of grain grown there ,cost of shipping on truck or rail will kill all profit margin for grain growing ,add to that the railroads don’t have the cars or track capacity ,,,know that for fact , add that one barge can carry up to 1000 truck loads at a time ,,the roads in the area can’t handel that much traffic ,,can you see the trucks on Lewiston hill? I’m old enough to remember before the dams ,, and How about the loss of irrigation water ? How many ac of cropswould be lost ?you know alot of that ground is in cannery\frozen food ,,just a guess from flying over ,tens of thousands ac ,
        Gives who is John Galt new meaning ,,
        I’ll still have food , but will the city’s ?????
        My ranch in Oregon had water rights from a small dam after I left the trout people talked the state into taking out the dam ,so the trout could go up stream ,only problem was the water behind the dam kept the stream running year round ,
        After the dam was gone the whole stream went dry to the point that the fish all died ,and the migratory birds loss a rest stop that had water ,thing need water in the high desert
        Lots of dead ducks and geese along with the fish ,,,and oh ya some wells went dry ,at the neighbor ranchs sad to see the losses

        Tea and cheesecake

      2. Bluesman,
        Give these idgits EXACTLY what they want, complete with every stinkin last unintended consequence,
        Its what they deserve,
        The rest of us will be fine, we plan for SHTF, they plan for a movie party when hollyweird releases some new garbage.
        Screw em

    2. I have the pleasure of living in the state that is most dependent on Hydro-power. Idaho. I really hope they don’t remove any more dams, because I will probably be paying more for electricity. They should have thought of the fish a long time ago. Besides, the only good fish is a pan fried to a golden brown fish. Yum. Perhaps, not build any more dams, but leave the existing ones alone. There is plenty of water for power, farmers, fish, recreation, drinking, etc. A lot of this will be gone if they tear down the dams. But, we’ll have yummy fish anyway.

  9. Out here in coastal WA we get nearly 80% of public power from hydro, 10% from biomass (leftovers from forestry operations), 10% nuclear, and just a smidge from coal. Pretty inexpensive. Only transport of biomass is dependent on continuously available fuel oil.

    Good article Ken, and thoughtful comments. You know, after 6 years they still don’t know who shot up the Merced substation. Maybe an inside job per DHS 4 years ago. Who knows? DHS Secretary just came out with new policy proposal for “whole of society” approach to protecting nation’s infrastructure; says guv can’t do it by itself. Flies in the face of the new socialism which is a good thing. But highlights the extent of our vulnerability.

    A while back, when see-something-say-something was a big thing, a report used to cross my desk. It was a nationwide compilation of just that. Folks all over the country reported lots of sightings of lots of strange activity including surveillance of infrastructure. Following up yielded good results. There are bad guys out there, some home grown nut jobs and some imported. After I left that work had the opportunity to call 911 on something I saw. Could not believe how fast I was passed off to a different control center to give my report. Sometimes wonder whatever came of my call, but never whether calling was the right thing to do.

    I kind of think the smaller players, like IS which may have been chased out of Syria but is still well-funded, haven’t acted because no power = no commo and they couldn’t rub our faces in it. State-level actors who hate us to their core, however, might see any blowback or collateral damage as acceptable in their calculations. Domestic fringe kooks or criminal gangs/cartels, who knows?

    Praying the S never HsTF. Hoping to be ready to hunker down and ride it out if it does.

  10. What I find interesting, is the push for alternative electrical means. “Ban the coal, the fossil fuel reliance.”
    But the percentage of alternative means is basically null.

    And as far as power grid security: with well known past destruction and successful attempts, how much would it cost to have a hired security in vulnerable areas, in comparison to the costs of damage done?

    Makes me chuckle a dead tree falls on a power line, taking the power out for x amount of customers. Tree is removed from the power line, but next to it off the same trunk is the other half of a dead tree awaiting the next wind storm to take the line out again.
    More overtime to come, fellas.

    1. @Joe c, alternative energy power sources from a preparedness point of view is a good, smart thing to consider – on a ‘personal scale’.

      At least it is if considering securing some “insurance” for just in case the grid goes down for longer than is ‘typical’ time-frame (or for a long time – worst case scenario?).

      What do I mean by ‘personal scale’? Well, one’s own home, cabin, BOL, or whatever. It’s not that difficult, though it does cost some $ and I understand that not everyone can afford it (although it can be scale-able). I also ‘get’ that the risk-reward factor for investing in solar (from a risk POV) is not for everyone. We all have different thresholds.

      The other discussion (replacing fossil fuels with solar/hydro/wind/other) is something on a grand scale, and at this stage of our technology would not even come close to delivering what we ‘need’ today as a modern society.

      ‘Supplementing’ is one thing. But ‘Replacing’ is quite another. At this stage of the game there’s way more energy packed into fossil fuels than today’s alternatives. But that doesn’t mean alternatives are not doable on a smaller scale (one’s own home for example). Just saying.

      1. Ken
        Yup
        Not knocking your article by any means.
        My post was as on national state, not an individual stand by.
        And by all means, on a very small scale, I am trying and want to try alternative means.
        What I’m trying to say is, our slightly undesirable .gov wants us to ban the evil fossil fuels for energy, but a very small percentage is in alternative means. The tech is there, right? I’m on a cell phone.
        I have, many a times in my area alone, seen corporations starting an alternative energy source. Corn, soy (yes burn the food we eat) solar, now wind towers in the country are like skyscrapers in the big cities.
        So far, since the eighties, corn has failed, solar has failed. Lack of government funding is the excuse, but they are the clowns that want to push the alternative agenda

        1. Successful energy alternatives fund themselves, else…they are not successful energy alternatives.

          The only energy crisis we have faced, or ever will face, is government caused.

  11. I agree that it would be wonderful to have more alternative, “green” energy, but it just isn’t do-able on a large scale at this time. Springfield, MO put up a large wind turbine a year or two ago to see how feasible this would be. It turns out that one would power about four houses a year with the amount of wind received. Needless to say, the city buys wind power from somewhere else (Kansas, I think) instead.

    Personally, I’m saving up for solar. I don’t want to go into debt, so it’s taking a while.

    1. Totally green energy technology has existed since the 1960s. But, you will never see it, as it is so cheap and simple, it would destroy the existing status quo. We have had functioning generators using this technology since the early 1970s. The first motor we made with it in the mid 1960s is still running and has never been turned off. Thing is, this early motor has just gotten more efficient over time and is running faster, now, than it did when it was first started.

      Imagine a quiet generator, with no exhaust emissions or fuel tank, the size of a small refrigerator, which does not get hot to the touch, hooked up to low pressure hot/cold waterlines from your water heater, which is nearby, and some electrical cable. It runs all the time 24/7 and may need servicing once every ten years, or so.

      An identical generator is also installed in your car, which also runs constantly, even if the car is parked for long periods. This unit supplies four electric motors in the car, one in each wheel, which makes it go. You park it in your garage, and plug it into the house…where its generator adds to your home’s electrical needs. At work, the employee parking lot, filled with such cars, generates the electrical demands of the work facility itself. This is why GM maintains one of the largest research laboratories for this technology in the world. Its job is to create as many applications of this technology as it can possibly imagine, so these ideas can be kept off the market. If you know where to look, you can discover what they are working on and what they have already created. It helps of you read Japanese, or Russian, however.

      It is not science fiction to me, as I have personally worked with this technology since the late 1970s and developed a more efficient engine design. I used to give my children some of this technology to use in their school’s science fair exhibits, and it always mystified everyone and won them praise from their teachers.

      Pity you shall never see this technology used to power your homes, until there is no other option…and even then, only after we have all suffered greatly.

      Energy is not the problem. Power is the problem…. The kind of power people employ upon other people.

      1. Ision,
        IMHO
        That isnt power but greed and arrogance
        This is our largest problem today, a political class that sees fit to rule rather than partake in governing,

  12. Not too far away from me is the North Anna Nuclear Power Plant. It was built on top of an earthquake fault. When it was built I think late 70’s, everyone was told not to worry about any earthquakes, that there hadn’t been any sign for many years. Then we had a big one I believe 2011 or 2012. The plant was shut down for awhile to assess damage. There have been some smaller quakes since then. Not too smart on the part of the power company.

    1. Yeah, been to Lake Anna, beautiful place. There’s a place near the N. plant where the hot water from the plant get’s cooled by circulating in a pipe that runs thru a cove in the lake. Water stays nice & warm in that cove year round..

  13. The big picture on this, underlined by Kens article and the comments, is that none of us have any control over power coming in to our homes – or not – unless and until we act on making options available.

    I am way back in the pack on this one, as I hammer away on my woodpile for next year one log at a time. Have a couple noisy backup generators, but no solar. Well, a solar charger for my iPhone (sudden grim realization about priorities!)

    But Ken walks the talk when he invests in a solar system that works: Expensive in the setting up, but priceless when needed…..

    IMO there is a lot to be learned from that.

    1. Bogan,
      For around $200 you can buy a small solar kit. Play with it. Experiment with it. Get a feel for what it can, and especially what it can’t do.

      There are many articles and how-to facts online. Many provided by government. Most on this site, are intelligent caring folks. Find the time to learn, and you can save big $ by doing it yourself. The information is out there and it’s free.

      Solar power is not cheap power. It is however, power that you control. Well, you and the cloud cover. I have small solar and wind systems. Will they do everything I need? No, not even close. Is it better than going without? Absolutely. Ya know that feeling of accomplishment that goes with gathering fire wood. You know you can keep your family warm, no matter what happens with the power grid. Same thing with a little solar/wind.

      Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Start the learning now. Knowing how it all works, will be important if something goes wrong. Turn-key solar/wind is great when all is well. DIY is invaluable, when ya can’t call someone to come and fix it. You can be your own tiny power plant, if need be.

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