Illinois Energy Production and Consumption

With 12.1 million residents (1999), Illinois nationally ranks fifth in population. Illinois ranks seventh in coal production and fourteenth in oil production. Although it has a history of important coal production, moderate oil production, and minor natural gas production, Illinois currently consumes more energy than it produces. Thus, Illinois' energy supplies and prices are determined by many interconnected factors extending across the world. Illinois is part of the global energy marketplace.

Illinois' energy resource consumption is roughly in line with its fifth place population ranking. Illinois ranks (1997) sixth in coal consumption, fifth in natural gas consumption, seventh in electricity usage, and eighth in petroleum consumption (on a btu equivalent basis). Illinois' capacity to generate electricity ranks fifth. Illinois is a new exported of electricity (1998) and uses a diverse figure 1: History of Illinois Coal Production. Source: Energy Informaiton Administration mix of fuels to generate electricity, including coal, nuclear, and, increasingly, natural gas.


Illinois coal production peaked in the late 1910s at almost 90 million tons per year (Figure 1). Today, Illinois annually produces 40.4 million tons (1999) and consumes about 44.6 million tons (1998), but only about 42 percent, or 17 million tons, of Illinois coal is consumed in-state. Most of the balance of coal used in the state, about 21 million tons in 1998, comes from Wyoming's Powder River Basin. Compared with that coal, Illinois coal generally contains more sulfur, which must be removed from power plant emissions; thus, the future production of Illinois coal will depend on mining efficiency relative to the costs of sulfur removal, among other factors.

Natural Gas

Illinois produced minimal quantities of natural gas, 195 million cubic feet in 1999, but consumed 980.6 billion cubic feet that same year. Thus, Illinois produces only 0.02% of its natural gas consumption. However, Illinois is an important natural gas distribution and storage state, ranking second in the nation in natural gas storage capacity, primarily underground storage of gas used to meet peak winter heating demand in the Midwest and Northeast. Illinois receives substantial natural gas supplies from traditional U.S. source regions along the Gulf Coast and in the Midcontinent as well as from Canada.


Illinois produced an estimated 9 million barrels of petroleum in 1999, which is substantially lower than the estimated 22 million barrels produced in 1989, but consumed 242.1 million barrels in 1997. Thus, Illinois produces only 3.7% of its petroleum consumption. Petroleum production in the Illinois Basin is now in a mature stage, as it is for the forty-eight contiguous states onshore as a whole. However, despite cumulative production of 4.3 billion barrels in the Illinois Basin, as many as 4.1 billion barrels of unrecovered movable oil may remain in the Basin's reservoirs.


Illinois has a substantial utility generating capacity of about 30,400 megawatts (MW) and ranked fifth in the nation in 1998. That year, of the five largest plants in the state, one was gas-fired, three were nuclear, and one was coal-fired. Overall generating capacity is dominated by coal with 44 percent coal-fired and 32 percent nuclear plants. Recent sales by utilities have moved more capacity into the non-utility sector; new construction is almost entirely by non-utility "merchant" generators using natural gas-fired turbine technology. Most of these new and currently proposed plants are designated for peak-load capacity, an application for which natural gas turbines are well suited.