PSNH isn't the only utility dumping coal-fired power for gas-fired power
Posted by David Brooks | Monday, July 9, 2012
The low price of electricity produced by incredibly low-priced natural gas has had an effect in New Hampshire, leading PSNH to ramp back use of its biggest power plant, coal-fired Merrimack Station, because they can buy gas-fired power cheaper than they can make coal-fired power (as I reported a couple of months ago).
But PSNH is far from alone. That fact came home with areport from the US Energy Information Agency that in April, "for the first time since EIA began collecting the data, generation from natural gas-fired plants is virtually equal to generation from coal-fired plants, with each fuel providing 32% of total generation. In April 2012, preliminary data show net electric generation from natural gas was 95.9 million megawatthours, only slightly below generation from coal, at 96.0 million megawatthours." Here's the report.
Check out the chart above to see how startling this change is. The use of coal to generate electricity is falling at a staggering rate.
This is good for the environment because coal is pretty nasty stuff all around, and I speak as a man who lived for two years in coal-producing Pennington Gap, Va. Natural gas is no environmental slam dunk - fracking and methane leaks reduce its green benefits - but it's an improvement over coal.