Back in 2011 and 2012, natural gas was rapidly rising as a source of electricity in the U.S., displacing coal. In April 2012, the two sources were tied, each supply 32% of the America’s energy.
But environmentalists will be disppointed to hear that coal is now back to providing 40% of the nation’s electricity output, more than all other power sources.
According to the EIA, the U.S. tapped 131,000 megawatt hours worth of coal in March, compared with just 84,000 for natgas.
Here’s the chart:
The reason: natural gas prices have now climbed back to well above $4, after falling to as low as $2 a year ago. EIA:
Heading into the 2013 spring shoulder season (between winter and summer), when demand for electricity typically falls, higher prices for natural gas reduced the fuel’s share of total generation below the record levels of last April.
The good news is that coal still comprises far fewer megawatt hours than it ever has — since 2009 annual coal generation has fallen well below its historical 2 million megawatt hour norm.
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