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U.S. Electricity Demand Rose in 2013, Boosting Emissions

Total U.S. electricity demand increased 1.4 percent last year, the first gain since 2010 and reversing long-term trends in the energy industry, according to a new report.

Coal produced 39 percent of U.S. electricity in 2013, up from 37 percent a year earlier, while power from natural gas slipped three points to 28 percent as prices climbed, according to the Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook by Bloomberg New Energy Finance released today.

That led to the first increase in U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions since 2010. President Barack Obama has pledged to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels. Wind, solar, hydropower and other renewable sources produced 13 percent of the country’s electricity, up one point from 2012.

Carbon emissions “actually ticked back up somewhat due to a short-term rebound in coal-fired generation,” according to the report.

The 2013 results buck the long-term trend, the London-based research group said. Electricity consumption has declined 5 percent since 2007, largely due to improved energy efficiency. Use of coal is down from 49 percent of total generation, while gas increased from 22 percent of the mix and renewable energy has surged from 8 percent. Carbon emissions are down about 9.8 percent from 2005, after peaking in 2007.

The report was produced with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

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