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CFC Solutions: Natural Gas-Fired Power to Top Coal in 2016

CFC Solutions Newsletter (Monday, 21 March 2016)

The latest short-term outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) pegs natural gas to produce 33.4 percent of the country’s electricity generation this year, compared with 32 percent for coal. “This marks the first time that natural gas would provide more electricity than coal on an annual average basis,” EIA said. Last year, natural gas outpaced coal for six months. In a separate report, EIA noted that 80 percent of U.S. power plants retired last year were coal-burning units. Shuttered facilities, totaling 18,000 MW—“a relatively high amount compared with recent years”—were mainly built between 1950 and 1970, “and unable to compete economically with natural gas and too expensive to upgrade to comply with new air pollution rules.” Generation retired last year also tended to be smaller than the rest of the nation’s coal fleet: Net summer capacity of the average coal unit was 133 MW, compared with 278 MW for coal stations still operating. Nearly half of the 2015 coal capacity shut down was located in three states—Ohio, Georgia and Kentucky.


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