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Coal Used to Generate US Power Falls in April: EIA Report

June 28, 2016 at 17:36 by Andrew Moran

Coal utilized to generate US power declined in April to its lowest monthly level since 1978, says a new report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

According to new EIA data published on Friday, coal-fired power plants produced only 72.2 million megawatt hours (MWh) in April — one megawatt can power approximately 1,000 American homes. This is the smallest amount of coal energy output since April 1978.

For the third consecutive month, natural gas surpassed coal as the nation’s main source of fuel, the EIA noted. Natural gas produced 100 million MWh in April.

In total, 293.3 million MWh of US power was generated in April. Gas had represented 34% of that energy, while coal accounted for 25%. Nuclear was involved with 20% of the country’s production. Solar renewables, like wind, and non-hydro were responsible for just 7% of the energy production.

The EIA has previously projected that energy generators would burn more gas than coal in 2016 for the very first time. For more than 100 years, coal has served as the primary source of fuel for US power plants. However, it has been falling since reaching its peak in 2007, when it produced half of the nation’s power supply.

Last year, energy companies closed down 17,500 MW worth of coal-fired power plants. They expect to shut down another 13,000 MW this year amid weak gas and power prices. Since energy firms are being required by the federal and state governments to upgrade older coal plants to keep in line with environmental rules and regulations, the low energy prices are making these upgrades more expensive.

Weekly coal output was up just 0.410 million tons at 13.351 million tons as of June 18.

Thermal Coal CAPP prices were trading at $39.50 st on Monday. The Henry Hub benchmark is recording natural gas spot prices at an average of $2.03 this year

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