U.S. electricity generators burned 17 percent more natural gas in September and cut coal use versus a year ago, the Energy Department said today.
Power plants consumed 834.3 billion cubic feet of gas during the month, up from 712 billion in September 2011, the department’s Energy Information Administration said in its Electric Power Monthly report. It represents 4.08 billion cubic feet a day of additional gas demand.
Coal consumption fell 9.5 percent to 69.5 million tons in September from 76.8 million a year earlier.
Total electricity production in the nation fell 1 percent to 334.7 million megawatt hours versus September 2011. Gas-fired plants accounted for 32 percent of the generation, up from 27 percent a year earlier, while coal’s share fell to 38 percent from 42 percent during the same period, department data show.
“Almost all regions of the country saw an increase in natural gas-fired generation when compared to September 2011,” especially in the western, southeastern and central states, the department said in its Electricity Monthly Update also released today.
Output from coal plants fell in every state in the continental U.S. except Florida, where a “slight increase” in coal use probably occurred because of refueling outages at two nuclear plants, the department said.
Gas at Henry Hub in Erath, Louisiana, the delivery point for New York futures contracts, rose 46 percent to $2.96 per million British thermal units in September from a low of $2.03 in April, the department said. Central Appalachian coal rose 2.2 percent to the equivalent of $2.74 per million Btu during the same period.