Explore this map to see where your electricity comes from!
Each dot represents an electric power plant, sized according to the amount of electrical energy it generated in the indicated year, and colored according to its primary energy source. You can zoom and pan the map, adjust the scale of the dots, and uncheck some types of power plants to focus on other types. You can also use the popup menu to scale the dots according to nameplate capacity or CO2 emissions. (Unfortunately there is no CO2 data for 2019.)
Click or tap on any dot to see the data for that power plant (and a link to its location in Google Maps). Plant capacity is measured in megawatts (MW), or millions of watts. A typical American household uses electrical energy at an average rate of about 1000 watts, so a small 1-megawatt power plant can power about a thousand homes, while a large 1000-megawatt power plant can power about a million homes. A plant’s annual net generation is its average power output multiplied by the number of hours in a year (8760), and is measured in megawatt-hours (MWh). A plant’s capacity factor is its average output as a percentage of its nameplate capacity. Nuclear plants tend to have the highest capacity factors, followed by coal, gas, and hydro. The capacity factors of wind and solar farms are limited by the availability of wind and sunshine at each location.
The data for 2007 and 2018 is from the EPA’s eGRID databases, while the data for 2019 is from the Energy Information Administration (forms 860 and 923). Plants that produced no power (or negative net power) during the indicated year are not shown. As you can see, America’s electric power sector has been rapidly changing, with coal on the decline and gas, wind, and solar power on the rise. Here is a graph of total U.S. electricity generation, by source, from 1950 through 2019:
Here’s the same data plotted on a logarithmic scale, without the stacking:
The year 2007 was an approximate turning point for U.S. electricity, when gas, wind, and solar power began to replace coal. Total generation reached a temporary high in 2007, not exceeded until the up-tick in 2018.
Technical details: Some power plants obtain significant amounts of energy from more than one source, so the dot colors on the map can be somewhat misleading for these; the popup text will then indicate what percentage of the electricity was generated from the primary source. The vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants are carbon dioxide (CO2), but some plants emit other greenhouse gases as well, so CO2 equivalent, or CO2e, is used here. The “Other” category is defined in the eGRID documentation as “other unknown/purchased/waste heat”. Rooftop solar panels and other “behind-the-meter” generation are not included in the data shown on the map; the Energy Information Administration estimates that small-scale solar generation is about 50% as much as utility-scale solar generation.
You can find similar maps and visualizations on many other web sites:
This page was created by Daniel V. Schroeder, Physics Department, Weber State University. Use your browser’s View Source or Page Source command to view the source code and open-source (MIT) license. Links to the data files are in the source code. To process the EIA data I used a Python script, posted here.
This interactive map uses my personal Mapbox free “starter” account, which has a limit of 50,000 map views per month. I'm not sure what constitutes a map view or how likely it is that the limit will be reached. Please contact me if you encounter difficulties.