Coal is no longer America’s number one source of electricity generation, according to government data, as cheap natural gas Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations continue to hamper utilities and power companies operating coal-fired power plants.
Natural gas is predicted to provide 33 percent of America’s electricity in 2016 while coal power will only provide 32 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). For the first time in modern history, coal will not be the most widely used source of electricity in America.
Low-priced natural gas from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has allowed the hydrocarbon to out-compete and undercut coal power, accelerating the shift towards fuels that emit less carbon dioxide.
“Environmental regulations affecting power plants have played a secondary role in driving coal’s declining generation share over the past decade, although plant owners in some states have made investments to shift generation toward natural gas at least partly for environmental reasons,” according to EIA. Natural gas has also benefited from anti-coal regulations from EPA and other agencies.
Last year, natural gas produced more electricity than coal for every month between July and October, according to EIA data released last December.
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