Pennsylvania was the country’s first state to operate a nuclear power plant for electricity generation and is today the second-largest nuclear-generated electricity state after Illinois. But in recent years the triple threat of the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale natural gas boom, wind power subsidies, and solar power subsidies have hit the state’s nuclear industry hard. Consequently the power company Exelon has announced plans to shutdown the generating station at Three Mile Island—yes, that Three Mile Island—in 2019 if Pennsylvania does not rescue the industry as have the states of Illinois and New York, each facing similar challenges.
I wanted to take a look at the electricity generated by nuclear power in Pennsylvania, but had to settle for energy produced. And while the data was only as recent as 2014, it did extend back to 1960 thereby dating back almost as far back as nuclear power in Pennsylvania—it began in 1957.
The subject has always been of interest to me and was the focus of one of my first data visualisation pieces back at university. And so while the data is not quite the same, nor over the same geographic area, it is interesting to see the spike since even 2008. (Worth noting that even in a coal state the long, slow decline of coal even before President Obama is self-evident.)
Unfortunately the EIA data came through a .pdf and not a more accessible data file so I spent most of my time recreating the data. Consequently, I had little time to do more than track these changes. But even still, I think you would agree the message is clear: natural gas has quickly disrupted the market. (Let’s again ignore the fact I could not plot renewable energy sources.)
Small disclaimer I suppose, I have always supported nuclear power as part of a non-carbon energy portfolio. But I also grew up within sight of and fascinated by the Limerick Generating Station steam clouds, so call me biased.
According to this piece from FiveThirtyEight, maybe not as much as they used to be. From a data visualisation standpoint, what stuck out at me was this plot of correlations of how similar various states are. Basically, the closer to the number 1, the more similar, the closer to 0, the less.
I might question the value of placing the numbers within the squares—see what I did there?—because the colours could be used with a legend to indicate the range of similarity. But if this were an interactive piece, it certainly could be done to reveal the number on tap or mouseover.
Anyway, it was interesting to see that among swing states, Pennsylvania is least like Georgia but most like Minnesota. The former, certainly. The latter, who would have guessed, don’t ya know.
Credit for the piece goes to the FiveThirtyEight graphics department.
So last week I mentioned Pennsyltucky in my blog post about Pennsylvania’s forthcoming importance in the election. And then on Friday I shared a humourous illustrated map of Pennsylvania that led into an article on Pennsyltucky. But where exactly is it?
Luckily for you, I spent a good chunk of my weekend trying to find some data on Pennsylvania and taking a look at it. You can see and read the results over on a separate page of mine.
You may remember my post from Wednesday talking about the likely importance of Pennsylvania in the forthcoming election. I referenced an article from Philadelphia Magazine, which opened with a great map of Pennsylvania. I find the map very much worth sharing, especially on a Friday. I love the island life.
Take note of the other island off to the east, it is another good one on which I have spent many a years of my life. But, yes, anything generally west of the straits is a very, very different experience.