Energy Consumption In The Middle America Boom States



Welcome to the second post from Inside Energy’s series on the basic energy industry facts in the Middle America Boom states of Colorado, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Yesterday, we took a look at energy production. Today, we’re turning to consumption. All three boom states are net energy producers.  (As a nation, we consume more energy than we produce) For all three, industry is the biggest consumer and transportation is the runner-up.

  • North Dakota ranks 41st in terms of state energy consumption:
    • industrial – more than 50 percent of total consumption;
    • residential and commercial uses – more 27 percent.
  • Wyoming ranks 40th in the nation, and consumes slightly more than North Dakota:
    • industry consumes 58 percent;
    • residential and commercial uses represent about 21 percent.
  • Colorado ranks 26th in the national for energy consumption. But industry and residential/commercial take the lead:
    • Industry accounts for 29 percent of the state’s consumption;
    • residential and commercial combined make up 43 percent.

When we look at consumption per person, however, the picture is quite different. As a top energy producer with a small population, Wyoming has the highest consumption per capita of any U.S. state – it takes energy to make energy.


Wyoming residents consume 975 million Btu per person per year. That’s about three times the national average, if you’re keeping track. North Dakota isn’t far behind, fourth in the nation for energy consumption per capita and consuming more than two times the national average. Coloradans, on the other hand, consume less energy per person per year than the average American.

If you consider the total consumption per state, it’s easy to see that Wyoming and North Dakota residents aren’t necessarily hiking up their energy consumption by leaving their lights on and their TVs blaring all night: Most of the consumption comes from industry.

Stay tuned for the final piece in this introductory series, where we’ll look at production and consumption side-by-side.


Data notes:

  • Where did you get this data? This data is from the Energy Information Administration’s State Energy Data System (SEDs). The EIA is a federal agency focused on (you guessed it) disseminating information about energy and tools like this U.S. energy map. We also used population data from the U.S. Census Bureau (ACS 2011 1-year estimates, for the data geeks among you).
  • Why does this graph use data from 2011? Yes, 2011 is a long time ago. The EIA has published full, detailed reports on energy production and consumption, by type and industry, for each state through 2011, and reports on sub-sectors of the energy industry – like coal and natural gas– for more recent years. We didn’t want to compare, say, wind production from 2011 with natural gas production from 2012.  As soon as we can get more current numbers, we’ll update these graphs.
  • What is a Btu? Btu stands for British thermal unit, and it’s a measure of energy. One Btu is roughly equal to the amount of energy it takes to heat one pound of water (about two cups) by one degree Fahrenheit. You’ll often see energy measured in other units – Joules, calories, watt-hours, etc. — and with oil, you’ll see production reported in physical quantities, too (barrels).