WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2017 - In addition to keeping wholesale power prices relatively stable in 2016, the low cost of natural gas contributed to a shift toward increased natural gas-fired electricity generation, largely at the expense of coal-fired generation, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The agency says the amount of electricity generation fueled by natural gas between January and October 2016 was 6 percent higher than generation during the same period in 2015.
In contrast, EIA says coal-fired electricity generation during the first 10 months of 2016 was down 12 percent compared with the same period in 2015.
EIA notes that 2016 was the first time that natural gas was the primary source of U.S. electricity generation (when measured on an annual basis).
Monthly natural gas-fired electricity generation first exceeded coal-fired generation as the primary source of electricity in April 2015, the agency says.
Natural gas was the leading source of electricity for nearly every month of 2016, the data show, accounting for an estimated 34 percent of total annual utility-scale power generation, compared with a 30 percent share for coal-fired generation.
Electricity generating facilities were scheduled to add about 24 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale capacity in 2016, more than 90 percent of which were natural gas, solar, and wind additions.
Coal units accounted for most energy retirements during 2016, EIA notes, with more than 7 GW of coal-fired capacity retired during the year, equivalent to 2.5 percent of existing coal capacity in place at the end of 2015, EIA says.
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