Oil-fired power plants are dwindling, but hanging on

Renewable energy sources and natural gas generate more power in the U.S. than oil, which was once a more prominent energy source before it dwindled to account for less than one percent of the country’s electricity.

The U.S. shifted away from petroleum-fired electricity during the 1970s, following the Arab Oil Embargo, when the price of oil sky rocketed. Today, the majority of petroleum-fired power plants were built before 1980, and most are used for short periods to meet peak electricity demand. Often, oil-fed power plants are kept operating a low capacities to combat the higher cost of fuel, air pollution restrictions and less efficient and older technology.

Most of the surviving petroleum-fired power plants are concentrated in 10 coastal states, which historically had to pay more to transport coal into the region. Most of the U.S. petroleum-fired power plants are in the Northeast, the Midwest and Florida, according to data from the U. S. Department of Energy.

Nearly every state, including Texas, has a small amount of oil-fired capacity — less than 500 megawatts. (One megawatt is roughly enough to power 200 average homes on a hot Texas day.)