Discuss as:

Wyoming, Alaska top list of states that use most energy

Grant Hindsley / AP file

The U.S. population, which accounts for approximately 4.5 percent of the world's population, uses a fifth of the world's energy and leads the world in gasoline consumption.

In 2010, the United States used roughly 97.7 quadrillion Btu of energy, up from roughly 95 quadrillion in 2009. To put that in perspective, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates global consumption at roughly 500 quadrillion Btu. Effectively, the U.S. population, which accounts for approximately 4.5 percent of the world’s population, uses a fifth of the world's energy.

The vast majority of U.S. consumption is from fossil fuels, mostly petroleum, followed by natural gas and coal. The remaining use comes from nuclear energy, at 8.6 percent, and renewable energy, at 8.2 percent. While the U.S consumes an enormous amount of energy as a whole, some states consume much more energy than others. Based on the Energy Information Administration’s data for 2010, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 states that consume the most energy per capita.

24/7 Wall St.: America's worst companies to work for

Regions that produce the most energy also use the most and pay the least. Nine of the 10 states are among the top 20 producers of energy per capita. Combined, the 10 produced 33.2 quadrillion Btu, roughly a third of the total energy production in the U.S. Meanwhile, they paid 8.3 cents per kilowatt-hour on average, less than the national average of nearly 10 cents.

Energy prices in the states that consume the most energy per capita are among the cheapest in the country. This is due largely to the availability of locally produced energy, particularly petroleum. Eight of the 10 states with the highest energy use are among the third with the cheapest costs. Wyoming, the state with the highest consumption per capita in the country, also has the cheapest costs per capita, at just 8.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. The U.S. average cost is nearly 10 cents, and in Hawaii, it is 25 cents per kilowatt-hour.

In addition to using the most, many of these states tend to be among the greatest producers of energy relative to the size of their populations. Some, including Louisiana, Texas and Wyoming, are also the greatest producers overall. Wyoming produces 10.5 quadrillion Btu of energy, roughly 14.5 percent of the nation’s production, despite being the least populous state in the country.

The reason these states are producing and using so much energy has a great deal to do with their main industries. Most of these states, including North Dakota and South Dakota, Wyoming and Texas, are heavily involved in the energy production industry, particularly oil production. Energy production requires a great deal of energy use. Industrial use, which includes manufacturing and energy production, is among the highest type of use in these states. Every one of the top 10 states for energy industrial consumption is among the top 10 for overall energy consumption.

Residential consumption is also high in many of these states, but not nearly as high as industrial consumption. Of the 10 states that use the most energy per capita, five are in the top 15 for residential energy consumption per capita.

Residential consumption, nationwide, is 22.3 percent of total consumption, while industrial consumption accounts for 31 percent. The commercial industry accounts for 18.4 percent and transportation uses 28 percent of total energy consumption in the U.S.

24/7 Wall St.: States losing the most jobs to China

24/7 Wall St. relied on U.S. Census 2010 population statistics and U.S. Energy Information Administration's  2010 energy consumption and production data to produce both consumption and production on a per capita basis. We also included costs per kilowatt-hour and consumption for each of four major types: residential, industrial, commercial and transportation, from the administration.

These are the 10 states that use the most energy.

1. Wyoming

  • Consumption per capita: 948.1 million Btu
  • Residential consumption per capita: 85.2 million Btu (15th highest)
  • Industrial consumption per capita: 528.2 million Btu (second highest)
  • Residential price per kilowatt-hour: 8.77 (sixth least)
  • Population: 568,158 (the least)

Wyoming consumed more energy per person than any other state. Its per capita consumption was 948.1 million Btu — the equivalent of almost 171 barrels of oil per person per year, or 7,182 gallons per person a year. Most of this was not the result of residential consumption but of consumption for transportation, industrial and commercial sectors where Wyoming ranked second, second and first respectively in the country. Wyoming has the smallest population in the U.S. but ranked second for the largest amount of energy produced in the country, with more than 14 percent of the nation’s production. In 2011, the state produced 40 percent of the coal mined in the U.S., while in 2010 it had almost 12 percent of the country’s dry natural gas reserves. The average cost of electricity among all sectors of users in Wyoming was the lowest in the country at 6.2 cents per kilowatt-hour.

2. Alaska

  • Consumption per capita: 898.5 million Btu
  • Residential consumption per capita: 72.1 million Btu (20th lowest)
  • Industrial consumption per capita: 432.7 million Btu (third highest)
  • Residential price per kilowatt-hour: 16.26 cents (sixth most)
  • Population: 722,718 (fourth least)

Alaska ranks second for the amount of energy consumed per capita. Alaska is unique in that many residents are not linked to a grid infrastructure but rather receive their power from diesel generators. Use of generators is energy-intensive and therefore expensive, and for this reason Alaskans paid some of the highest prices for electricity in the country. Due to the vastness of the state, people travel great distances to and from places. It comes as no surprise that Alaskans’ consumption of energy for transportation per capita was 291 million Btu per person, almost 35 percent more than the next state, Wyoming. Alaska was also one of the largest producers of energy in the country and sits behind Texas in second place for the amount of crude oil production.

3. Louisiana

  • Consumption per capita: 894.4 million Btu
  • Residential consumption per capita: 84.2 million Btu (17th highest)
  • Industrial consumption per capita: 591.1 million Btu (the highest)
  • Residential price per kilowatt-hour: 8.98 cents (12th least)
  • Population: 4,574,836 (25th most)

Louisiana comes in third for the amount of energy consumed per capita, but it comes in first in the country for the energy consumed per dollar of gross domestic product. The state consumed more than 20,800 Btu per dollar of GDP. This is almost three times the national average and 33 percent more than Wyoming, the state that consumed the second most amount of energy per dollar of GDP. Much of this is due to the heavy, energy-intensive industries that are the backbone of Louisiana’s economy. The industrial sector in Louisiana accounted for more than 66 percent of the state’s energy consumption — the highest proportion in the country. The state was one of the largest producers of energy in the country and had the second most number of refineries. Most of the energy produced was crude oil and natural gas.

24/7 Wall St.: The biggest gas guzzlers on the road

4. North Dakota

  • Consumption per capita: 712.6 million Btu
  • Residential consumption per capita: 97.8 million Btu (the highest)
  • Industrial consumption per capita: 365.5 million Btu (fourth highest)
  • Residential price per kilowatt-hour: 8.13 cents (third least)
  • Population: 683,932 (third least)

Like many of the states on this list, North Dakota is sparsely populated. So, although the state consumed the ninth-lowest amount of energy in the country, on a per capita basis it was the fourth-largest amount of energy. The heating costs of long, cold winters plays a large role in this. The Roughrider State ranked first in the country for consumption of energy for residential purposes per capita. North Dakotans paid some of the lowest average prices for their electricity. Across all sectors, residential, commercial and industrial, the average price of a kilowatt-hour of electricity was 7.11 cents, much lower than the U.S. average of 9.83 cents. The state was the 15th-largest producer of energy in the country and has the ability to become an even larger producer in the future due to new rock fracking techniques in the Bakken formation and the sixth-best wind energy potential in the country.

5. Iowa

  • Consumption per capita: 489.3 million Btu
  • Residential consumption per capita: 79.7 million Btu (24th highest)
  • Industrial consumption per capita: 239.5 million Btu (fifth highest)
  • Residential price per kilowatt-hour: 10.42 cents (22nd least)
  • Population: 3,062,309 (21st least)

Iowa’s large consumption of energy per capita was driven by the residential and commercial reliance on liquified petroleum gas, which has a lower energy density than fuel oil or petroleum. Iowans also used a great deal of wind power, which amounted to 19 percent of its generated electricity. Iowa consumed more than twice the amount of energy it produced in 2011. Still, it was the largest producer of ethanol in the country, producing 27 percent of the nation’s fuel ethanol in 2011. The Hawkeye State ranked fifth for its consumption of energy for industrial purposes per capita.

Click here to read the rest of 24/7 Wall St.'s The States That Use the Most Energy