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Which U.S. States Still Depend on Coal for Electricity?

Utah power plant
Gary Whitton / Shutterstock.com

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Commodity.com.

At the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, world leaders convened to negotiate new goals for reducing carbon emissions in the effort to slow the pace of global warming.

Across two weeks of negotiations, one of the major issues under discussion was the use of coal as an energy source.

Some coal-dependent nations including India and China argued for a “phase down” rather than a total “phase out” of coal power in the final agreement. Meanwhile, U.S. envoy John Kerry predicted in an interview that the U.S. would eliminate coal by 2030.

Coal is one of the cheapest energy sources available in the U.S., in part because the U.S. houses a large portion of the world’s coal reserves. But coal also has other environmental and social downsides that have made it a less desirable fuel source.

To determine the states most dependent on coal for electricity, researchers at Commodity.com calculated the share of total electricity in each generated from coal. In the event of a tie, the state with the greater total electricity generated from coal was ranked higher. The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Researchers also calculated the total and proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources. Renewable sources include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric.

Here are the states most dependent on coal for electricity.

15. Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 28.2%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -29.1%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 15,420,998
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 10.5%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 5,735,702

14. Kansas

Cottonwood Fall, Kansas
fletchjr / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 31.1%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -31.0%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 16,959,839
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 44.2%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 24,117,519

13. Colorado

Westminster, Colorado
Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 36.0%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -38.2%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 19,478,405
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 30.9%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 16,724,964

12. Montana

Livingston, Montana
Nick Fox / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 36.4%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -47.0%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 8,490,284
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 59.4%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 13,872,119

11. Ohio

Dayton Ohio
Alex Balanov / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 37.2%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -37.2%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 45,008,596
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 2.9%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 3,500,737

10. New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 37.5%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -37.4%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 12,788,184
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 27.2%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 9,253,738

9. Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 38.7%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -36.1%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 23,761,097
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 9.4%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 5,779,793

8. Nebraska

Lincoln, Nebraska
Mark Dahmke / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 51.0%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -22.3%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 18,788,647
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 28.9%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 10,648,740

7. Indiana

Carmel, Indiana
Golden Ratio Photos / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 53.1%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -38.9%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 47,772,885
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 8.2%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 7,364,544

6. North Dakota

University of North Dakota at Grand Forks
Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 58.1%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -11.7%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 24,496,807
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 38.1%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 16,084,768

5. Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah
Joe Guetzloff / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 61.5%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -28.0%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 22,806,021
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 12.5%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 4,644,687

4. Kentucky

Louisville Kentucky
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 68.7%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -39.9%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 43,638,313
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 8.5%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 5,395,636

3. Missouri

Kansas City Missouri traffic highways
Real Window Creative / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 71.3%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -20.8%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 51,755,690
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 7.5%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 5,450,572

2. Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 79.4%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -22.6%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 33,359,104
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 16.1%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 6,763,997

1. West Virginia

West Virginia
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of electricity generated from coal: 88.6%
  • 5-year change in electricity generated from coal: -26.2%
  • Total electricity generated from coal (MWh): 50,216,398
  • Share of electricity generated from renewables: 6.2%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 3,496,285

Methodology

Man analyzing data on a laptop
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Electricity Power Data.

To determine the states most dependent on coal for electricity, researchers calculated the share of total electricity generated from coal. Only states with complete data available were included in the analysis.

In the event of a tie, the state with the greater total electricity generated from coal was ranked higher.

Researchers also calculated the total and proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources. Renewable sources include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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