Special Report

10 States Burning the Most Coal

10. Florida
> 2014 coal electricity generation:
52,046 GWh
> 2014 total electricity generation:231,062 GWh
> Coal as pct. total electricity generation: 22.5%
> Natural Gas as pct. electricity generation: 61.0%

Florida — the third-largest consumer of energy in the country — generated more than 52 thousand GWh of coal energy in 2014, 10th most of any state. However, there are no coal mining operations in The Sunshine State. All the coal burned in the state is shipped by barge and rail from other major mining states, primarily Illinois, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Florida is one of the most populous states in the country. So while the state produced the 10th highest amount of energy from coal in the country, this energy accounted for just 22.5% of the state’s electricity generation– well below the share of coal-based electricity generation nationwide of 38.7%. Natural gas is of greater significance in Florida. More than 60% of the state’s energy came from natural gas, the fourth highest share in the country.

9. Michigan
> 2014 coal electricity generation:
53,086 GWh
> 2014 total electricity generation:105,821 GWh
> Coal as pct. total electricity generation: 50.2%
> Natural Gas as pct. electricity generation: 10.9%

Roughly 50% of electricity in Michigan was generated by burning coal, a somewhat lower share from just a few years ago. In 2009, roughly two-thirds of electricity generated in the state was from coal. The major cause for this shift has been an increase in the state’s nuclear power output. State reactors generated more than 31 thousand GWh in 2014, or nearly 30% of the state’s electricity production, up from 21,000 GWh, or 21.6%, five years prior. While there was once a substantial coal mining operation in the state, there are no active mines currently. Michigan receives its coal by rail primarily from Kentucky and West Virginia. .

8. Missouri
> 2014 coal electricity generation:
72,746 GWh
> 2014 total electricity generation:88,074 GWh
> Coal as pct. total electricity generation: 82.6%
> Natural Gas as pct. electricity generation: 4.5%

Nearly 83% of Missouri’s electricity was generated by coal last year. Plants burned more than 43 million tons of coal to produce nearly 73,000 GWh. Though Missouri is itself a coal producing state, only 1% of the coal it consumes is also mined there. Most of the coal burned in Missouri is shipped by freight train from Wyoming. The next biggest contributor to the state’s energy mix was nuclear power, which generated slightly more than 10% of Missouri’s energy in 2014. While many states are shifting to an increased reliance on natural gas, Missouri is not. The 3,952 GWh generated from natural gas in the state last year was only slightly higher than the 3,874 GWh generated in 2001. Missouri’s lack of any significant natural gas reserves may partially explain its lopsided energy mix.

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