Coal-Fired Electricity: Downturn or Permanent Decline?

New data released by the Energy Information Agency show how the economic recession has affected electric demand in the United States. While the 4% reduction from 4.1 million GWh in 2008 to 3.9 million GWh is not surprising given the economic climate, what is indeed interesting is how different fuel -types were affected by this slowdown. Over the same period, coal-fired power generation was reduced by 11%.

This reduction in coal-fired electricity stands in stark contrast to a 4.2% increase in electricity from natural gas and an 11.8% increase in renewable electricity over the same year. According to analysis by Grist’s Sean Casten: “U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell 7 percent between 2008-09, and the shift away from coal was responsible for 55 percent of those reductions.”

The role of coal’s in U.S. carbon emissions is likely to come to the fore as Congress seeks to take legislative action in response to the B.P. oil disaster in the Gulf and consider possible energy and/or climate legislation.

For more on the EIA information, see Casten’s article in Grist.

Kristin Tracz

About Kristin Tracz

Kristin Tracz served MACED’s Research and Policy team from 2009-2012 working on clean energy policy, energy efficiency programs and the Appalachian Transition Initiative. She joined MACED after finishing her Master of Environmental Management degree at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She now lives and works in Washington, DC.