The United States of utility territories: energy art appreciation corner with Colin Murchie


The brilliant and singular Colin Murchie, senior director of business development at EVgo, offers a look at the United States, parsed by utility service territories.


I made this as part of my day-to-day at EVgo, where we’re always expanding a large national network of electric vehicle fast chargers.

The underlying data used to create the map is public; it’s the “Retail Service Territories” layer and service published by the Department of Homeland Security as part of its Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data.

Double click to enlarge

Image: Colin Murchie

The data was synthesized by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the Homeland Security Infrastructure Program Team.

I generated the styles and visualizations inside ArcGIS Online for our internal GIS tool. The colors are randomly generated each time it launches, mostly using ESRI’s default color palettes.

When we’re using this internally there are some different filters, boundary and opacity treatments, too, especially to do a better job representing municipal and co-operative utility boundaries. And obviously labels!

There’s fun stories here. You can see all of Nebraska covered with those co-ops that *kind of* follow county boundaries until you look closer, or see the Kentucky Utility Co. tracing out the topography there. Of course, whether a utility territory is really a polygon at all is not a straightforward mapping question – they’re not really “shapes” legally…

The results are often very lovely, which I think causes people to use it more.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.

This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: