Energy Update: Largest U.S. electric generating capacity gain since 2011

More than 27 GW was added last year, which more than offset the retirement of about 12 GW of capacity, creating a net capacity gain of about 15 GW.

All graphics courtesy of EIA
All graphics courtesy of EIA

U.S. electric generating capacity sees largest net change since 2011

The electricity generating capacity added to the U.S. power grid during 2016 was the largest amount of added capacity since 2012 — a notable rebound from 2015 during which there was the largest net drop in capacity recorded in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). More than 27 gigawatts (GW) was added last year, which more than offset the retirement of about 12 GW of capacity, creating a net capacity gain of about 15 GW.

California imports about a quarter of its electricity on average

The California Independent Systems Operator (ISO) imported a net daily average of 201 billion kilowatthours (kWh) in 2016 from other western regions – about 26 percent of its average daily demand, according to the EIA. California’s ISO coordinates most of the electricity used in the state.


Those imports were supplied by the other two regions that make up the Western Interconnect (WECC), the Northwest region of WECC, which includes most of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, Washington, and a small area of northern California, and the Southwest region of WECC, which includes much of Arizona, New Mexico and small portions of Nevada and Texas.

U.S. uranium production lowest since 2005


U.S. production of uranium concentrate (U3O8) in 2016 was 13 percent lower than the uranium produced the year prior, the EIA reports. U3O8 totaled at 2.9 million pounds for the year, marking the lowest annual U.S. production since 2005. In 2016, U.S. uranium concentrate production was less than 7 percent of the historical peak production level of 43.7 million pounds in 1980.

Fossil fuel use driven by projected carbon dioxide emissions


The EIA’s projected consumption of petroleum and other liquid fuels weighs heavily on fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles and for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Projected use of these fuels varies depending on world oil prices that directly affect the prices of gasoline and distillate fuel oil and on production and disposition of hydrocarbon gas. These are among the several factors affecting fossil fuel use and the resulting level of energy-related CO2 emissions in the coming decades explored by the EIA in its nearly released Annual Energy Outlook 2017.

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