Facts About Electricity

From Grist Magazine, 2001

12,133 — per capita annual electricity consumption (kilowatt-hours) in the U.S. in 1997

1,381 — per capita annual electricity consumption (kilowatt-hours) in the rest of the world in 1997

21.5 — percentage increase in U.S. electricity consumption from 1990 to 1999

43 — percentage decrease in utility funding for energy efficiency from 1993 to 1998

90 — percentage of total U.S. coal consumption used to generate electricity in 1998

33 — percentage of all mercury emissions in the U.S. that came from coal power plants in 1999

30,000 — number of lives cut short in the U.S. each year due to pollution from electric utilities

37 million — number of cars necessary to produce the amount of smog-forming pollution that comes from U.S. coal power plants each year

7.5 — percentage of total U.S. energy consumption from renewable sources in 1998

94 — percentage of total U.S. renewable energy consumption from hydropower and bio-mass (trash and wood incinerators)

$216.7 billion — revenue of the U.S. electric utility industry in 1999

$124 billion — approximate combined revenues of all the governments in Africa

90 — percentage of total electricity used by a standard incandescent lightbulb that is wasted as heat

1,000 — reduction in pounds of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by replacing one incandescent lightbulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, over the bulb’s lifetime.


1 — Calculated by dividing U.S. consumption in 1997 by the 1997 U.S. population estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau.

2 — Calculated by dividing world consumption (minus U.S.) in 1997 by the 1997 world population (minus U.S.) at the U.S. Census Bureau.

3 — U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Annual Report, Volume 1.

4 — American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, State Scorecard on Utility Energy Efficiency Programs 2000.

5 — U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, "U.S. Coal Supply and Demand: 1998 Review."

6 — Clean Air Network, "Mercury Sources Factsheet (pdf)," Aug 1999.

7 — ABT Associates, "The Particulate-Related Health Benefits of Reducing Power Plant Emissions (pdf)," Oct 1999.

8 — Environmental Working Group, "Up In Smoke", Jul 1999.

9, 10 — U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, " U.S. Renewable Energy Consumption," Mar 2000.

11 — Edison Electric Institute, "1999 Year in Review (pdf)."

12 — Central Intelligence Agency, "World Factbook 2000."

13 — U.S. EPA and U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Star: Compact Fluorescent Lights.

14 — U.S. EPA, How you can prevent pollution prevention in your home, Aug 1998.