energy overview


Energy is, of course, what keeps America - and the rest of the world - running. It's also the source of political debate all the way from drilling in Alaska to windfarming in Massachusetts.

To dive into the nitty gritty of those debates, also see our our fossil fuel, alternative energy and nuclear power pages.

But first, the lay of the energy fields...

where our energy comes from - and what it's used for

Note: the thickness of the lines show how much of each energy source goes toward what use - for example 100% of nuclear energy goes to creating electricity. sources: EIA and EIA (pdf)

How much energy we're using:

  • 100 Quadrillion Btu total (EIA);

  • 22% of world consumption (EIA).

over the years

Relative costs of different energies

per million Btu (2002) (EIA):

  • Coal: $1.30

  • Natural gas: $5.27

  • Petroleum: $8.82

  • Nuclear fuel: $0.44

  • Biomass: $1.59

per Kilowatt hour (2009) (NYT):

  • Coal: 8 cents

  • Natural gas: 11 cents

  • Nuclear: 11 centsĀ 

  • Wind 10 - 12 cents (depending on whether a plant needs back up energy source for unwindy days)

Where the facts are from:

  • EIA - Energy Information Administration - government site

  • NHTSA - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - government site

  • DOE - Department of Energy - government site

  • Did we miss something, let some slant slip in, lose a link - or do you just have something to say? Drop a line below! In the spirit of open dialogue, cJ asks you keep it civil, keep it real and keep it focused on the message, not the messenger. See our policy page for more on what that all means.