America’s real-time electricity use mapped

America’s real-time electricity use mapped

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the first-ever tool to measure nationwide electricity use in near-real time.

The site, U.S. Electric System Operating Data, is still in beta and accepting suggestions on how to improve the service.

A ticker at the top of the page provides the previous day’s total, hourly and peak demand. Three tabs divide the site into grid overview, status map and detailed data.

The grid overview shows a map of the United Stated, divided into regions, such as Northwest, New England ISO, Electric Reliability Council of Texas and others. When a user selects a region,  a line graph to the left that shows the megawatt-hours of use for that current day as well as the previous day, week and year.

The status map tab provides demand, forecasted demand, net generation and other measurements for each individual interconnection, or major power grid. A deeper dive into the numbers is found under the detailed data tab.

The information is updated every 15 minutes, and is provided by the different interconnected grid operators.

Steve Luminati, a supervisor for EIA’s web development, said one of the project’s teams was dedicated to making sure data was clean and accurate while another built the site.

The system can recognize when the numbers it is receiving are likely not correct. If, for example, a state was not reporting any electricity use, the system would recognize that as abnormal, Luminati said. That information would be shown on the map, but the data would not be included in national average until the numbers were confirmed.

Luminati said the electricity consumption information was available before this dashboard was created, but data from individual operators was not compiled, so an overall picture of the county’s energy use was not available.

The data can be used online by the financial and electric industries as well as  government analysts to spot trends and problem areas, he said. It can also be downloaded for more-detailed study and analysis.

The project took about two years to complete. The process involved two internal alphas and a beta version that was released to the electric industry to provide feedback.

“Based on feedback, we refined some of the visualizations, improved the user interface and included a new grid overview section,” Luminati said. “But perhaps most importantly, it enabled the [electric utilities] and their peers to visualize their data as rendered by the website. The private beta spurred dramatic gains in data quality.”

Officials are not sure how long the current beta version will run, but all feedback is welcome, Luminati said.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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