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Coal Resumes Decline For Making Electric Power, Federal Data Show

Curtis Tate
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
A CSX coal train rumbles east through Charleston, West Virginia.

Coal for making electricity experienced a revival last year, but it’s expected to decline this year.

The use of coal to generate electric power declined every year from 2014 to 2020, then surged last year with increased demand and higher natural gas prices.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal has resumed its decline this year.

While coal generated 23 percent of U.S. electricity last year, the agency forecasts the share will be 20 percent this year.

The EIA forecasts a slight increase in coal production this year, but most of that will be exported.

Coal plant retirements have continued, and some utilities have reported problems obtaining coal supplies for their power plants.

The EIA reports that coal shipments to U.S. power plants – most of which move by rail or barge – have fallen by half since 2010.

Energy & Environment Reporter, ctate@wvpublic.org, 202-679-8470, @tatecurtis

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