Index: Environment / Subcategory: Use of Resources

Electricity Consumption

Date updated: 01/28/2013

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Colorado ranked 32nd in the nation for total electricity consumption per capita in 2010. Colorado's electric utilities generate most of their energy (70%) by burning coal and approximately 25% using natural gas-fired plants. Currently, a minimal amount (5%) of electricity is generated with renewable resources, such as wind, hydro, biomass, or solar.

Construction of a renewable generating plant is currently under way in Gypsum, Colorado. It will use wood chips (many from the beetle-killed pine trees in the National Forests) for fuel and will be able to produce 11.5 megawatts of power, enough to power nearly 10,000 homes.

Electricity suppliers in Larimer County include Platte River Power Authority, which generates and delivers electricity to its owner communities of Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, where it is distributed by each municipal utility to residents and businesses. The Platte River Power Authority generates electricity with coal burning and natural gas generators, wind turbines, and hydro (water-powered) facilities.

Fort Collins Utilities provides electric service to more than 62,000 homes and businesses in the community. Loveland Water & Power was formed in 1925 and approximately 30,000 customers. Estes Park Light and Power serves about 10,500 customers. Other municipalities and rural areas in Larimer County are supplied electricity by the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association (PVREA) and Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo), a subsidiary of Xcel Energy. Poudre Valley REA was formed in 1939 and serves 35,000 customers in Larimer, Weld and Boulder Counties. PSCo [pdf] was incorporated in 1924 and serves approximately 1.4 million electric customers in Colorado (County data unavailable).

How Electricity is Measured:

Electricity for individual customers is usually measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). One kWh represents the amount of energy needed by a 1000-Watt device (e.g. clothes iron, microwave oven) to operate for one hour. Leaving a 100-Watt light bulb on for 10 hours consumes 1 kWh of energy. The U.S. Department of Energy provides information on calculating your energy consumption as well as the wattages of many common appliances. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2011, the average monthly residential electricity consumption was 940 kilowatt-hours (kWh). The EIA reports space cooling (e.g., air conditioning) accounted for 22% of residential electricity consumption in 2010, a 23% increase over the previous year, followed by lighting (14%).

For larger entities, such as institutions or geographical areas (universities, hospital systems, or cities/states) measuring electricity in kWh results in large and unmanageable numbers. In these cases, the preferred unit of measure is the megawatt-hour (mWh) which is the equivalent of 1,000 kilowatt-hours. The energy in 1 megawatt-hour is sufficient to power one thousand 100-Watt light bulbs for 10 hours, or to run a household-size dishwasher (1200-Watt) nonstop for approximately 34 days, 17 hours.

What this chart shows: Electricity Consumed in Colorado by Sector, 2002-2011

Data Source: Energy Information Administration - Electric Power Annual Data - State Data Tables

See data table

What the above data tell us:

Between 2002 and 2011, Colorado consumed 15.0% more electricity overall. Of the three sectors shown, the Industrial sector increased the most (43%) during this period, followed by Residential (18%). Although Transportation consisted of only 0.1% of total electricity consumption in 2011, it 35% over the last 10 years. See the data table for the number of MWhs consumed by each sector.

What this chart shows: Electricity Consumed in Fort Collins by Sector, 2004-2012

Data Source: City of Fort Collins Utilities Department (data not available online)

See data table

What the above data tell us:

Total electricity consumption in Fort Collins increased 8.0% between 2004 and 2012. Over this time period, the residential sector increased the most (14.0%), followed by Commercial (9.5%) and Industrial (1.0%).

In January 2009, the City of Fort Collins adopted their 2009 Energy Policy [pdf] with four express goals: provide highly reliable electric service; reducing the City's carbon footprint by 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% by 2050; enhance local economic health; and work closely with Platte River Power Authority to further the City's energy policy goals.

What this chart shows: Electricity Consumed in Loveland, 2004-2012

Data Source: City of Loveland Water and Power Department (data not available online)

See data table

What the above data tell us:

From 2004 to 2012, total electricity consumption in Loveland increased by 26.9%. The commercial sector saw the largest increase (36%) during this time. The 2008 spike in the industrial sector was most likely caused by a short-term change in manufacturing processes.

Additional Information:

Related Information on COMPASS -

Other Resources -

Industry Standards or Targets:

Energy Star: A government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. The program sets energy efficient standards for construction, home appliances, and others. Included are strategies for more energy efficient homes and businesses.

Data Tables:

Electricity (MWh) Consumed in Colorado by Sector

Year

Residential

Commercial

Industrial

Transportation

Total

2002

15,425,000 19,802,000 10,672,000 37,000 45,899,000

2003

15,725,000 19,657,000 11,076,000 37,000 46,458,000

2004

15,532,000 19,498,000 11,675,000 19,000 46,705,000

2005

16,436,000 19,846,000 12,052,000 19,000 48,334,000

2006

16,952,000 20,153,000 12,605,000 25,000 49,710,000

2007

17,634,000 20,508,000 13,113,000 44,000 51,255,000

2008

17,720,000 20,551,000 13,822,000 49,000 52,093,000

2009

17,413,000 20,008,000 13,571,000 44,000 51,036,000

2010

18,102,000 19,597,000 15,172,000 46,000 52,918,000

2011

18,276,799

19,889,231 15,241,814 50,441 53,458,285

Return to Text

See chart

Electricity (MWh) Consumed in Fort Collins by Sector

Year

Residential

Commercial

Industrial

Street Lighting

Total

2004

428,919 463,676 457,018 8,056 1,357,669

2005

453,822 474,835 464,278 8,123 1,401,058

2006

467,812 482,252 454,720 8,236 1,413,020

2007

484,964 493,537 464,360 8,422 1,451,283

2008

472,383 500,222 457,193 8,546 1,438,344

2009

465,543

492,897 446,090 8,534 1,413,064

2010

494,038 500,597 448,107 8,526 1,451,268

2011

493,345 502,176 451,083 8,533 1,455,137

2012

488,985 507,541 461,481 8,526 1,466,533

See chart

Electricity (MWh) Consumed in Loveland by Sector

Year

Residential

Commercial

Industrial

Street Lighting

Total

2004

200,500 70,416 292,422 97 563,435

2005

217,454 75,284 308,809 96 601,643

2006

230,062 80,262 315,086 93 625,503

2007

238,496 84,200 331,515 91 654,302

2008

234,188 83,950 374,120 62 692,320

2009

233,210 89,573 327,408 104 650,295

2010

246,811 91,911 339,298 105 678,125

2011

247,750 96,305 359,205 105 703,365

2012

252,750 95,781 366,629 100 715,260

See chart