Natural Gas Edges Coal as Biggest U.S. Electricity Source

Credit: Fletcher6

Credit: Fletcher6 / CC BY-SA 3.0

The number one source of the United States generation of power used to be coal. However, the first time natural gas has replaced coal as the number one source of power generation. This surprising milestone occurred for the first time this spring, and it has been brewing for years. Natural gas finally got its break when the gas prices slid, and now there are new regulations that make coal increasingly more risky for the power generators. 

According to the research company SNL Energy as of April, 30 % of generated electric power came from coal, 20 % from nuclear power, and 31 % from natural gas. The United States has now become the world’s largest combined producer of natural gas and coal, all in thanks to the drilling that began in 2008. This drilling has caused natural gas production to increase by 30%. Companies have now been able to reach gas that is trapped deep underground using hydraulic fracturing.

New regulations that have been set in place to restrict greenhouse gas emissions have been aiming to make energy companies make a switch. Frequently, energy companies will switch between natural gas turbines and coal-fired facilities, all dependent on the commodity prices. The burning of coal produces more nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, making natural gas a cleaner energy source. Over the years, natural gas production has increased. As a result, coal production has decreased. This will eventually lead to coal production possibly ceasing. Many people see the same trend continuing, and natural gas remains the number one energy power generator in the United States.

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